An Industrial Embrace – There Café by Ewert Leaf
Footscray, VIC, Australia

Photography Jenah Piwanski
Interior Design Ewert Leaf
Words Bronwyn Marshall

Within the walls of an existing wool factory in Footscray, There Café draws on familiar and welcoming sensibilities to encourage an embracing environment. Ewert Leaf combines crafted elements with texture and a focus on authentic materiality and details, while connecting to the site and an industrial narrative.

Surrounded by similar industrial remnants of the area’s past, There Café inserts itself within the growing suburb of Footscray. The hospitality offering brings a contemporary warmth through softened elements into the existing factory space and expresses the generous nature of the volume’s proportions through restraint. The main counter emerges as a detailed timber box, encasing the whirring activity of coffee making and point of sale along with food displays, becoming the warming centre around which everything else pivots. The surrounding arrangements sit light-weight and temporary, connecting into the bordering banquette leather seating around the edges. Ewert Leaf brings a respectful pairing of the modern needs of a gathering space together with references to the building’s history, creating a unique and layered place in the process.

The hospitality offering brings a contemporary warmth through softened elements into the existing factory space and expresses the generous nature of the volume’s proportions through restraint.

Built by Koble Projects, There Café is deliberately restrained and binds its existing industrial past through an expression of nuanced details and new insertions that appear momentary. In its location, the large space is integral to the community and acts to support the growing residential and mixed-use developments that surround. The honouring of the existing warehouse vernacular through the retention of the remaining shell, polished concrete floor, steel glass windows and double height ceilings ensures its identity continues, becoming part of the present narrative as a place for nourishment and coming together.

Encasing the space is a feeling of warmth, which gives rise to a residential quality. A palette of timber, brass and leather adorn the seating, storage and benches and add warmth while also encouraging an engagement without pretention. Through a series of restrained gestures, the guests, the food and the coffee then animate the space and become the focus. The natural hierarchy created through spatial planning and a warming tonality grounds the insertions, while ensuring the proportions and scale of the feature steel and glass windows are focal art pieces in themselves. A keen focus on the natural and engaging local craftspeople further embeds the space as a product of its context, connecting and engaging beyond its walls.

Encasing the space is a feeling of warmth, which gives rise to a residential quality.

There Café brings the previous wool store’s 19th century origins into a current relevance through a considered and layered approach. Ewert Leaf has brought a community focus and sensibility into the functional operation of the café, which becomes expressed through the space itself.

Published 11 June, 2021
Photography  Jenah Piwanski
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