The Incinerator

The Incinerator cafe recently opened up in Willoughby, on Sydney's north shore.

The Incinerator cafe recently opened up in Willoughby, on Sydney’s north shore.

“It was a real privilege for Caroline (Choker, interior designer of Acme & Co) and me to work on The Incinerator, which was originally built in 1934. It’s a heritage site listed by the NSW Government Environment & Heritage office. This was a project of adaptive re-use and sustainability, giving new life to this extraordinary building.

“Our proposal was to respect, retain and enhance the architectural integrity of the building’s former history, and pay homage to the existing architects, Walter Burley Griffin and Eric Milton Nicholls.

“The existing space had amenity facilities located in the northeastern sector of the 100-square-metre plan. Part of our program was to relocate the amenities to the lower level and reveal the uninterrupted open-floor plan. The lower levels of the building are utilised as artist studios and gallery. Essentially we were left with a raw canvas of materials comprising of concrete floors, rendered masonry walls, terracotta roof tiles pitched by a series of delicate steel trusses.

“Our client (owner Jonathan Slingo) provided us a brief about what he wanted to achieve from the project. Part of that brief was inserting a wood-fired oven to create theatrics and evoke the senses. The kitchen is accommodated on the northern side of the building.

Along this facade is a series of apertures that dictated the layout of the kitchen equipment and allows natural light to filter through the kitchen into the cafe. There is total transparency and a lovely dialogue between patrons and the kitchen. Although this is open plan, there is a clear delineation between public and private. Diners typically enter from the eastern side and takeaway customers enter from the western side.

“We didn’t want to mimic any of the details but it was imperative that the symmetry, proportions and palette of materials were derived from the original building form. All the joinery and furniture is bespoke apart from the Thonet chairs. We wanted to tap into the spirit of Burley Griffin and work with craftsmen to sculpt the materials that were typical of that period. The original steel doors at both ends of the building provided some cues for the joinery details.

“The proposal was a sensitive design response to the Incinerator. Part of the challenge was that the fit-out had to be reversible upon termination of the lease so the original form could be reinstated. Therefore, the solution was to insert joinery elements that would have no impact on the heritage fabric.

“All of the kitchen services and air-conditioning are concealed within the existing trusses allowing patrons to experience the volume and space of the existing building.

“We not only design spaces, but like to be hands on with finer details, including styling, graphics, uniforms, cutlery and menus.  The result is a seamless project and a holistic experience.

“The Incinerator has been well received by the community including the design industry with Acme & Co being awarded a high commendation at the 2014 Eat Drink Design Awards.”

Acme & Co
Suite 3.10, 46a Macleay Street
Potts Point NSW 2011
T: 0411 367 444

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