Giving plants free reign was a conscious decision by Breathe Architecture to bring this old electrical transformer factory to life. Now a wholefood vegetarian restaurant, the seasonal motif of plants growing as they wish applies as much to the food as it does to the interiors.

The site, vacant for many years, included a small courtyard naturally overrun with devil’s ivy, a discovery that became key to the design concept. An exercise in more with less, the team at Breathe stripped back the warehouse, exposing the existing structure that would be preserved as much as possible.

Breathe’s materials included recycled timber battens to enclose the kitchen, recycled messmate table tops from an old Geelong station, steel door frames and joinery, locally manufactured brass door furniture and tap ware, cyclone wire planting screens, and exposed cement in lieu of bathroom tiles.

Concealed LED strip lighting is directed onto the old brick walls of the factory, throwing just enough light to showcase the texture of the brickwork without overly brightening the dining room itself. The tables are individually illuminated by sculptural lamps designed by David Murray, directing a glow more like diffuse candlelight than direct artificial light. The result is warm pockets of intimacy throughout the space.

The menu at the 100-seater restaurant is sophisticated, refined and experimental: ricotta and rye gnocchi with pumpkin mousse and blueberry compote, for example, or king oyster mushroom with confit garlic and pine-nut puree and smoked shallot.

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PHOTOGRAPHY: Peter Clarke

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