The Park House Food Merchants is a 200-seat restaurant within the newly rebuilt Mona Vale Hotel on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. The space hosts internal double height dining areas, external courtyard with retractable roofs and various private dining rooms, an open kitchen, internal cocktail bar, external main bar, large open internal and external fireplaces and externally exposed timber and steel structures.
The restaurant has been conceived as a loft-style art warehouse, a sympathetic attempt to reconcile the old motel; 70s coastal and retro. Somewhere between Donald Judd and Scandinavian modernism the loft is both robust and curated, well equipped to cater to the heavy traffic and coastal location, the venue is an expressive and artistic insertion into the dilapidated shell of the old hotel. Part art gallery, part loft, all motel charm.
The project explored various masonry (brickwork) forms, arches, corbels and coursing, and combined them with an array of specific lighting, furnishing and artwork. Alexander &CO. augmented and exposed the existing steel and timber structure to create a double story volume both internally and externally under the retractable roof. This volume is illuminated by custom high bay pendants and includes custom oversized paintings to the loft void.
The internal restaurant is built around an open show kitchen with recycled brick arches. Polished concrete floors throughout are replaced in feature moments with fan-shaped Carrara mosaic tiles, custom-coloured patterns and stone chequer plate tile coursing. An internal dining height bar with retro granite plays a centrepiece while Art Deco detailing to an internal brick fireplace creates niches and nooks for lounge room dining.
Externally, stacked logs are displayed and a double-sided fireplace and hearth anchor the lounge areas and high bar, all under the suspended fairly lights which illuminate a double height courtyard and retractable roof.
The final venue has a slightly nostalgic, tactile patina. Filled with both custom Oregon and hardwood furniture, leather banquettes and reclaimed and repurposed light fittings and furniture, the venue has a distinctly “found” quality, unexpected and inviting but artistically engaging and true to its inspiration.
Within the project the aim was to explore all things low fi. Nothing would be a lining, everything would be a substrate. There is no split battens, no MDF, nothing beyond base build materials and nothing that would eventually be churned and end up in a bin. The work of the venue is in its planning, volume management and then FFE. Very rarely does an opportunity come up where the fit out component is all but removed in lieu of artwork and furniture. It is an example of undertaking work where waste, churn and material are all reduced or removed.
This was an adaptive reuse project of a heavily dilapidated motel structure. Across several thousand square metres of land, this venue represents 1 of 6 stages of work carried out or completed at the venue as part of a gateway project to the greater Mona Vale precinct. The complex context of the multiple stages of work intended to reintroduce the community back to the catchment, to provide a social context which could sympathetically cater to the wider Mona Vale population: old, young, single, family etc. To date the venue and its additional stages has proven to perform as a community hub and its social role has been highly visible.
Project Name: Park House Food Merchants
Location: Mona Vale, Australia
Head Architectural Consultant: Jeremy Bull and Sam Birtles
Interior DesignTeam: Jeremy Bull, Sam Birtles, Larissa Raywood and Jay Sethasastrakorn
Photographer: Felix Forest
Editorial Styling: Claire Delmar
Project end date: October 2017
Client: The Sydney Collective
About Alexander &CO.
Alexander &CO is a multidisciplinary design practice with a global reach.
Their capabilities span a broad range of typological sectors where they work in all facets of spatial and brand design. Their technical skill base includes Architecture, Interior Design, Project Management, Styling, Branding and Master Planning.
At the core of Alexander &CO's DNA is the ambition to create timeless and market leading design. The studio provides a client journey that is focused on highly effective relationships and outcomes. Their people and culture are recognised by an empathic, social and team focused communication.