Perth-based architect Paul Burnham headed south to reconfigure two unusual buildings into one high-end restaurant and bar that showcases hundreds of local wines
With the success of Must Winebar in Perth, Russell [Blaikie, general manager] wanted to translate that formula at Margaret River. When tourists go to this area, they usually do a tour of the wineries, have a nice lunch, then stay at a hotel overnight. There are a lot of really nice wineries here but there were no high-end restaurants. So he decided to fill the gap.
“I had worked on some projects with him, including the design of the upstairs room at Must Winebar. It was a challenge taking on the Margaret River project last year because I’m based in Perth—a three-and-a-half-hour drive away. I’d head there each week and towards the end of the construction, Russell spent a couple of months there.
“The difficulty of the design was that there were two separate buildings next door to each other—a casual restaurant and a three-metre-wide bar. The main structural change was enclosing the alfresco space to link both spaces. We kept the existing kitchen, and rebuilt the bar. We also introduced a closable private dining area at the front. It helped that the floor levels were close to the same; if they hadn’t been it would have been a nightmare.
“We were conscious of not overdoing the design; otherwise it would sit like an oddity in the town. While I didn’t want it to be rustic and casual, it still had to have some sort of agricultural charm about it. That’s why we added a lot of WA timbers, including the she-oak for the flooring and on the bar, plus jarrah panelling on the walls. Then there are the big wine racks made of galvanised steel and yellow stringybark. The floor-to-ceiling wine racks look like expansive library shelves, stocking local labels. It ranges from expensive wines to bottles from small producers who don’t have an outlet, so it offers an outlet and display for them.
“Just like the restaurant’s timbers, bentwood chairs appear in both venues. The colour palette also matches. I’ve chosen Dulux Red Box for the walls: it makes the room warm and special.
“One of the main features of Must [Margaret River] is the Stchu-Moon 02 pendant light from Hub Furniture (www.hubfurniture.com.au) above the communal table, which seats about 16. I’ve heard that it’s regularly booked for special occasions. Overall, bars and restaurants in both Perth and Margaret River are very different to the Melbourne and Sydney scene. It’s still a hard thing for people to contemplate going into a restaurant just to have a drink at the bar. The intention of Must Margaret River was that once you cross the threshold, you are as comfortable going for a meal as visiting the bar.”
Must Margaret River
107 Bussell Highway
Margaret River WA 6285
Phone: (08) 9758 8877
Fax: (08) 9758 8899
Paul Burnham Architect
Mobile: 0439 095 865