The jury unanimously agreed Di Stasio Citta is the clear winner of the Premier Award from an outstanding field. It feels fresh, genuinely creative and is highly appropriate in terms of the theatricality of the dining experience. There exists a level of austerity to this project that’s cinematic in the way it allows one to understand the design’s concept and the way the space and its patrons work together. More impressively, its brave and bold approach also delivers a sense of intimacy despite the dynamism of the dining area, which results in a very personalized experience for patrons.
Theatre, art, drama, exchange and contribution to the street are all addressed in contemporary, interesting ways. In particular, the integration of artworks within the overall scheme and playful yet restrained stylings. One jury member celebrated its international appeal and thought the project wouldn’t look out of place in Milan, while all agreed it’s inherently sustainable because it feels like it will be here for a long time.
Restaurant, art gallery, institution – a unique crossing of Australia and Italy that is unlike anything else yet still represents the character of Di Stasio. Working in an existing shell, all the building faults and mistakes were hidden behind plasterboard and aluminium cladding. Hassell stripped everything back to the bare structure, revealing the concrete cracks and celebrating them. Originally, planning was restricted by the location of the bathrooms, which were forced to the centre of the main restaurant. A lengthy town planning battle finally allowed the bathrooms to occupy a narrow corridor on the facade. The outcome is Reko Rennie’s neon camouflage Visible Invisible that adorns the facade. Locally crafted furniture was made specifically for the restaurant and built to last – nothing temporary. The only compromise was time. The terrazzo floor took over six weeks to complete bringing everything to a standstill on site. No concrete trucks, just two workers hand mixing and pouring. The result is an egalitarian, hard wearing finish.
Design practice — Hassell
Project team — Di Ritter, Bronwyn Uphill, Laura Casey, Scott Walker, Reko Rennie (artist), Shaun Gladwell (artist), Pidgeon Ward (identity)
The Premier Award for Australian Interior Design is supported by Dulux. The Australian Interior Design Awards are presented by the Design Institute of Australia and Artichoke magazine. For more images of this project, see the Australian Interior Design Awards gallery.