The building which currently occupies 278 Willis Street was originally constructed in 1893 at 286 Willis Street on the corners of Willis and Abel Smith Streets. It served the local community at various times as a chemist’s shop, butchery and, more recently, as the iconic 90’s music venue Bar Bodega. In 2005 the heritage building was relocated to its present address as part of the Inner City Bypass project and sat vacant for almost a decade. The opening of The Bresolin in late 2014 continued the building’s use as a community hub; activating the immediate area and restoring vitality to upper WillisStreet.
The building’s heritage values largely influenced the architectural response for its adaptive re-use. A new extension to the north-west respects the existing Italianate style while responding to site constraints to enclose the prep-kitchen and ablutions. Smaller lean-to additions to the north-east are similarlysympathetic.
The contemporary gable form of the new courtyard structure separates itself from the existing building via a glazed canopy and withdraws from the existing bullnose canopy to create an outdoor terrace area fronting Willis Street. This withdrawal of form from the heritage building re-creates a street corner condition with an internal circulation ‘street’ separating the building from the courtyard. Each pitch of the courtyard gable translates differently to the spaces below; one retracts open while the other remains closed. This notion of distinct spatial identity of the courtyard spaces continues internally with the restrained upstairs formal dining room complementing the lively ground floor front bar. A glance into the continually active kitchen acts as a transition between the bar and formal diningspaces.
The design intention of creating varied spaces around and within an existing Edwardian building has resulted in a restaurant which responds to the diverse localcommunity.