Sassi at Balé

2008-04-6886-09-DavidTaylorA destination restaurant in Far North Queensland has to attract both cosy couples and corporate events, explains architect Scott Bradley of Grounds Kent Architects

The Balé project started in 2004 but the [Sassi] restaurant came later as the resort developed. In the original brief, we didn’t design such a large restaurant facility, but when the Sassis [restaurateurs Di and chef Tony] came on board, we custom-designed it to suit their requirements. They suggested that to make the thing work, they needed a certain size so they could cater for large functions. Originally, we had a smaller facility of 50 square metres so we escalated up to 150 square metres.

“The resort has a strong Asian influence with a contemporary Bali feel. We conceived the restaurant as a breezeway structure, and it can be opened up on three sides. One side has a pond with tranquil running water, and another has a backdrop of a beautiful tropical rainforest at the edge of the resort. Then, on the north-facing side, we get to look out over the pool terrace with a connection back to the bar area and the lobby.

“The structure is designed as flat-roofed at two different heights to create different spaces within the restaurant. There are a lot of perimeter walls so there are plenty of premium seats within the house. It gives guests the ability to have a different experience every time they dine.

“When designing a restaurant, we’ve found that the discreet integration of the service requirements is a behind-the-scenes aspect that you have to pay particular attention to. Sassi has managed to work seamlessly in terms of how it’s serviced and how it looks, as well as the cross-ventilation and positive interaction with the environment. The kitchen includes an open portion so guests can see chefs at work. It’s lucky Tony could be involved because he structured it so the cooking areas would have a bit of an outlook. The kitchen had to be loaded from behind and it’s central to the bar and to the outlet of food on the restaurant side, as well as connecting to the bar on the other side.

“With the interior design, we worked with Penny Del Castillo of Indesign International ( All the timber furniture is custom-designed, while the lighting is a mix of downlights and big pendant lights—including the Flattops from Yellow Goat Design (—for different ambiences.

“The restaurant seats 100  so it can appeal to couples or  be catered for large corporate events. The restaurant has also hosted quite a few weddings. In fact, I would have done it myself but I hadn’t finished the construction .”

Sassi at Balé

1 Balé Drive

Port Douglas,

Queensland 4877

Phone: (07) 4084 3000

Fax: (07) 4084 3099

Grounds Kent Architects

1st Floor, 30 Henry Street

Fremantle WA 6160

Phone: (08) 9335 7622

Fax: (08) 9430 6998

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