The Hospitality Design category was incredibly impressive and hard to judge as a result, but the jury unanimously agreed Arkhé is the front-runner. This project strikingly manages a complex series of spaces through an extraordinary use of materiality and light without trying too hard. It is truly unique and well designed, with a restrained palette that highlights an exceptional handling of texture and a balanced composition.
The designers had one very strong concept and ran with it all the way, which is extremely rare and in no way gimmicky. Materials, in particular, have been understood and cleverly applied, and the spaces are calm and well connected. The highly experiential nature of moving through the interior makes for a gutsy, powerful project.
Arkhé is a bar and dining room that responds to the ritual of cooking over fire through the ephemeral nature of time and decay with an acknowledgment of the beauty in everyday life. Time-worn objects and natural materials are the key to attaining balance.
The site came with a 400-millimetre level change from the entry to the rear courtyard, along with an elongated, corridor-like connection from the entry to the rear of the site. This provided an opportunity to create three distinct seating zones: the lounge, the dining room and the courtyard, all offering distinct experiences.
The lounge is the darkest and moodiest space, setting the tone for the dining experience upon entry. Guests can enjoy a seat at the bar, within the front courtyard or the time-worn banquette. The dining room wraps the kitchen, with seating elements along the kitchen bar, and booths intersected by the ramp connect the entry level to the dining room. The greater dining room, with its subtle light filtration overhead and fire-laden kitchen, engages and entrances diners.
Built on the land of the Kaurna people.
Design practice — Studio Gram
Project team — Graham Charbonneau, Olivier Martin, Dave Bickmore, Tess Sporn, Sam Broadbridge
The Award for Hospitality Design is supported by Space. The Australian Interior Design Awards are presented by the Design Institute of Australia and Artichoke magazine. For more images of this project, see the Australian Interior Design Awards gallery.