Considered by many as Melbourne's ultimate food tourism destination, the newly designed Vue de Monde restaurant is perched on the 55th floor of the Rialto Tower on what was formerly an observation deck. The concept behind Shannon Bennett's flagship restaurant is the abstract Australian landscape, particularly that of Victoria's capital city and its waterways. The project also sets a high standard in sustainable interior design.
The Yarra River, the reeds, the billabong, and Australian animals and insects like the platypus, fireflies, frilled neck lizards and kangaroos were all referenced for inspiration in the design, intended to celebrate Australiana 'in its true essence'.
The architects explored the concept of destination dining, but sought to move beyond the clichés that dominate Australian tourism - reef, rock and road - to connect the interiors with the local landscape. The design was undertaken as 'an investigation of the links between body, memory and ritual'.
The material palette used to express the abstract theme starts in the lifts, where treated reeds encased in black leather surround the occupants. Exiting, there are two paths, the first through to the bar, a monolith of locally sourced rough black basalt, the top polished to a mirror finish. This surface, which references the black pools of a billabong, reflects a cloud structure above, an art installation by Michaela Dwyer. Pieces of eccentric furniture are intended to create a carnival atmosphere. Blackened timber forms of a burnt-off landscape fill the terrace. Wet areas are conceived as the estuarine experience; 'waterfalls of e-Water' flow into black steel wash basins; the room is covered in chrome corrugated iron.
The second path is through the cellar, one wall covered in stainless steel pins, the other a mirror. Acoustic considerations ensure sounds are completely contained in this room. This area leads into the restaurant and to Joseph Kosuth's neon sculptures of Charles Darwin's sketchbooks. The dining room is sparse, containing timber tables covered in stretched black leather with fireflies suspended above - clusters of tiny light sculptures by Emma Lashmar.
These black table and lights are framed by the backdrop of the panorama room, with views out to the west and towards the river estuary. The kitchen is conceptualised as a 'campfire', protruding out to allow food to be prepared off to the side. The restaurant incorporates a range of sustainable features to deal with energy, water, materiality, products, and food waste, as well as the use of locally produced furniture, all seamlessly embedded in the interior design.
Australia Interior Design Awards Sustainability Advancement Award Winner 2012
Australia Interior Design Awards Hospitality Design Winner 2012
Eat-Drink-Design Awards, Best Restaurant Design, High Commendation 2012
Restaurant & Bar Design Awards UK International Restaurant shortlisted 2012
RAIA (Vic) Interior Architecture shortlisted 2012
Dulux Colour Awards, Commercial Interior, Commendation 2012
HA+D Hotel Management Asia, Hospitality Award 2012
Excellence in Restaurants Award for Design Winner 2012
DINING, FUNCTION ROOMS: DARK STAINED TIMBER
BAR, WINE CELLAR, ENTRY FOYER: BLUESTONE TILED FLOOR
LOUNGE AREA: WHITECLIFFE IMPORTS CARPETS
KITCHEN FLOORS: METZ TILES
KITCHEN, FRONT OF HOUSE, AMENITY WALLS
INAX TILES ARTEDOMUS
STUD FRAMED PLASTERBOARD WALLS, CHROME TUBES TO AMENITY
LOTUS SILVER WALLPAPER LINING
WATER SERVICES, KITCHEN AMENITIES, HANDWASH BASINS
E-WATER SERVICE VIA E-
CENTRAL REVERSE CYCLE HVAC SYSTEMS
CENTRAL REVERSE CYCLE HVAC SYSTEMS
DUCTED SYSTEM WITH EXTERNAL DISCHARGE
VENTILATED CEILING WITH EXTERNAL DISCHARGE
SECURITY CAMERA SYSTEM
SMOKE DETECTION, FIRE SPRINKLERS & EXTINGUISHERS