The brief was to expand on the current outlet of Melba, the identity of the brand had already been locked in, but the client wanted to expand on the life of that brand. Explorations of connectivity from Melbourne to Singapore, and the celebration of cross cultural identity.
The space required a multi purpose use. From casual lunches with a café feel during the day to post work drinks in the early evening and slightly more formal dining in the evening. The client also required events for up to 300 people to be occasionally conducted in the space with full audio visual technology integrated though out the space for functions. The space needed to be able to assemble and pull apart very quickly and simply. The layout had to be clear with a sense of community and dynamism. It still needed to feel light and open with a feeling of casual conviviality.
Singapore is in a region where it is routinely cloaked in a thick acrid haze from burning Palm Oil plantations only 250 km away in Sumatra. It is not uncommon for the PSI rating of the air to get to 400. (Your average day in London is 40) There has been a growing awareness of sustainability in the region.. Part of the brief was to utilise as many sustainable products as possible and raise awareness of environmental issues. Introduction of various devices within the space were required to assist in dampening the impact of the pollutant level in the space.
The space was a big booming concrete shell with floor to ceiling sheer glass walls. The acoustics were sharp and echoing. As a restaurant designer a key objective is to focus all customer senses into their immediate table space and to each other, not the person speaking loudly on the other side of the restaurant.
Sourcing and utilising sustainable product in Asia is still not as simple as one would think. Very little is produced regionally, and what is available is relatively unsophisticated.
With the objective of the sustainability aspect and the acoustic considerations, very little was available off the shelf. Almost every thing in the space had to be bespoke designed, from sourcing the recycled old growth oak used right through out, through to the bespoke recycled aluminium ceiling panels.
Sourcing local artisan manufacturers to execute the project was a challenge and quite a few months were spent sourcing the right crafts people for the project. Metal workers in Indonesia who are adept at hand hammering out recycled metal sheet right through to specialist traditional carpenters in Singapore who were comfortable at crafting large ancient beams of Oak into modernist form.
The space had large double door openings and the client required the interior space to have as much clean air as possible Challenging when the haze is over the city at a rate of 400 PSI and the operators are tying to block the haze out of the space.
Due to the high heat, humidity and high pollution of Singapore, the Mechanical and Engineering in the space was all consuming, from the amount of space it took up, to the vast chunks of budget that it devoured. This was more significant that most projects and a significant challenge to any designer.