There cafe – Footscray

Conceived as a shared meeting place, There Cafe is an uplifting and authentic hospitality proposition harnessed by the strength of its architectural setting. Designed by studio Ewert Leaf, the project is housed in a 19th-century wool store, the pared-back interior celebrates the site’s industrial character while softly layering new interventions; an evolution of its historic identity.
The site’s grand, cathedral-like windows, raw steel columns and soaring ceilings create a rich architectural canvas, sparking narratives around restraint, authenticity and time. A coffee counter lined with panelled oak leads visitors through to the heart of the lofty warehouse, where leatherlined banquettes sweep the perimeter, addressing an expansive dining area.
Thonet bentwood chairs and blackened steel pendants impart a sense of nostalgia and familiarity, while delicately detailed joinery takes cues from modernist furniture. The rigid envelope is softened by sheer linen drapery accentuating the site’s verticality, while antique brass embellishments and tactile finishes give a hand-crafted quality befitting of the There brand.
Starting with a vision to transform the iconic heritage building into a welcoming venue, the brief from the Gant’s (Pot & Pan, Gather & Tailor) was threefold; to honour the qualities of the warehouse, foster a sense of community and contribute to the surrounding mixed-use development.
From its varied industrial origins to its more recent use as the headquarters of Lonely Planet, the warehouse has been well utilised. The site’s grand, cathedral-like windows, raw steel columns and soaring 6-metre-high ceilings presented a rich architectural canvas, driving the design team to develop a narrative around restraint, authenticity and time. The striking architectural features and lack of direct outlook drove the spatial planning to have an intentionally inward focus.

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