To call the Capital Brewing Company Tap Room at Canberra Airport a bar would be an understatement. It’s a pivotal meeting place that connects people. A pleasurable place to dwell and linger before your flight. And a celebration of Canberra’s close connection with the natural landscape, offering uninhibited views of the airport’s runway and hills beyond.
Most importantly, thanks to Craig Tan Architects, it’s an enticing sensory environment where every traveller can sit and enjoy a Capital beer that’s been brewed five minutes down the road.
“We wanted to create a really warm place that’s all about getting back to the landscape and ‘feathering the edges’. So, rather than being just a little space to sit on the edge of the airport, we wanted to activate all the spaces around it, so people can sit around its edges and become immersed in those spaces, so you connect rather than create a space apart,” explains Craig Tan, director, Craig Tan Architects.
Cleverly, the Tap Room is essentially an urban space. Its edges are double or triple layered, so people can perch there and dwell.
“We’ve sort of feathered it so that even if you’re on the edge, you feel like you’re in a space, apart and separate, but can still watch, you’re in the flow of the traffic,” says Tan.
Little blockwork walls around the periphery create seating zones and on the edges of those zones, seats are parked like benches, giving the space scale and intimacy. Little portal frames also run around the perimeter, complete with brass canopies, to create moments of materiality when you’re sitting there. It’s just a delightful place to be.
The material palette is soft, warm and tactile. In fact, the closer you get to the architecture, the more tactile it becomes; the more amplified the materiality. The Ash Grey brick tiles on the bar front being case in point.
“When you come up to the bar, there’s chevroned (in profile) Ash Grey brick tiles. We wanted to create moments or touch points where it became quite tactile, and light would play across it and really draw your eye to it, and draw you down to the depths of the material. So it was important to find materials with a neutral palette but with a certain degree of variegation so it wasn’t consistent right through.”
“The brick slips were at the bar because we just loved the fact that they’re baked differently and have variegation and slight imperfections in them, which make them quite tactile and real to touch and look at. We chevroned them to encourage the play on light, because the light shafts from the atrium pass some amazing shadows across them, that respond differently at various times of day,” Tan explained.
Tactility continues throughout the blockwork around the edges of the bar, creating warm walls, grey stained plywood and warm spotted gum around the seated areas, terrazzo on the bar top, and finally, the timber coffered ceiling, which is variegated like a tree creating warmth above.
Undoubtedly, what makes the CBC Tap Room such a success is the way it is a true connector of people. With its feathered edges and variety of spaces to sit – at the edge or in the core – there’s something for everyone.
Airport Retail Enterprises, the client, reports that the Tap Room thrives with every seat taken – a clear testament to how much people enjoy using it, gravitating towards every space.
“We couldn’t ask for anything more because our architecture is all about the user experience – we want to amplify it and make it more memorable. So, when we hear people saying it’s full and there wasn’t a seat to be found, that’s great because that’s what we really love to do,” Tan concluded.
Photographer: Jaime Diaz-Berrio