Old meets new at Moonhouse, a new Chinese restaurant, bar and private dining venue housed in an original Art Deco building in Melbourne’s Balaclava, as Ewert Leaf explores the relationship between place and transience of time.
The team researched the Art Deco movement in Shanghai in the 1920s as well as modern Chinese architecture, applying their findings to Moonhouse through inspiring sweeping curves and unique materiality. The curved ceiling forms are further extenuated by the use of tiles, a material not commonly reserved for ceilings, as the studio layered unique materials to emphasise the idea of contrast — colour versus texture, hard versus soft.
Hammered glass sits in harmony with textured tiles, while vinyl and onyx clad horizontal surfaces. The prevalent use of burnt, golden orange was inspired by the colour of roast duck and affectionately named ‘duck skin’.
Working within the constraints of the existing heritage building envelope was challenging. Doubling the amount of equipment needed in the kitchen needed to be balanced with the increase of patron capacity.
“We had a breakthrough moment when we decided to completely push through the existing kitchen walls and protrude into the restaurant”, the team explains. “The result was bold and dynamic, and enabled us the bring the kitchen into the dining area, showcasing the theatre of the wok and further respond to the requirements of the brief.”
With the kitchen being a focal point of the restaurant, Ewert Leaf explored various degrees of transparency, revealing movement and action through the coloured, textured glass and strategic cut-outs. With a nod to the classic Art Deco architecture and the streets of Hong Kong, the kitchen is articulated through a curved metalwork portal and louvres.
The warm orange tone was custom created and matched to the other elements in the space including velvet banquettes, vinyl, onyx and powder coat trims. Curved forms are further explored through walnut veneer and steel to create an elevated welcome station, partitions and banquette details.
The bar, clad in 2pac veneer highlights the natural grain of timber while also being colour blocked in the venue. Upstairs, the private diner showcases original pieces by 1940’s Australian furniture makers with the bar commanding the room.
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