The project brief was to take an existing inner city warehouse and transform it into the most ecologically sustainable roastery/café facility possible. The clients required a space in which they could work, grow, test and roast coffee while also providing an educational experience for the public. This building embodies their business goal "to provide a stimulating environment that showcases a transparent relationship from farm to cup, and producing industry leading coffee."
The design response provides three interlocking but distinct spaces within the warehouse, with a simple plywood and steel window strategy to divide them while natural lighting and cooling. The insulated green bean storage was positioned at the shaded south end of the building where stable temperatures were crucial. The main roasting and packing areas are located centrally, with the laboratory and hydroponic garden linking it to the main café area. The lab is accessible to the staff and patrons during cupping and tasting sessions, with its steel framed windows at each end allowing views into the roastery from the café.
The existing building was stripped back to provide a textured backdrop of exposed brickwork, timber trusses and a patchwork of different floor slabs to the café. The retention of existing features and minimisation of new materials presents a strong aesthetic texture while reducing demolition and additional material expenses. A 10 000L wall of rainwater tanks acts as a partition between the roastery and the washrooms while also functioning as a heat sink for the temperature spikes produced by the roasters. A simple ventilation strategy of low and high openings allow natural convection currents to cool the café and roastery area, while the hydroponic courtyard works as a natural evaporative cooling system, with operable windows allowing air to cool through the hydroponic courtyard before entering the café.
The building is designed to be both relaxed and refined, and functions as an example of how sustainable design and hospitality can work together to create a great café experience.