Urban Coffee Farm: Design Inspirations

Photo: HASSELL team at their first Urban Coffee Farm meeting

It’s just over a month until the centre-piece of the Festival – The Urban Coffee Farm and Brew Bar - springs up in Queensbridge Square for only 17 days.

Designed by internationally-acclaimed design practice HASSELL, this reinterpretation of a terraced coffee farm celebrates Melbourne’s love affair with coffee.

Here we speak with Mary Papaioannou, Principal at HASSELL, about the team behind the project and their design inspirations.

Can you tell me about the team of designers involved in the project?

The Urban Coffee Farm project was led by our HASSELL Young Designers Group, a multidisciplinary interest group that pursues a variety of design challenges, mostly in the form of public competitions. Their portfolio of completed projects includes competition winning proposals (such as 'light box'),'pop up' venues (Chasing Kitsune at the 2011 State of Design Festival) and urban installations (Walk the Line in Sydney in 2012).

They also host great industry events at which emerging designers and entrepreneurs from fields as diverse as wine making and event planning are given the opportunity to meet like-minded professionals which can lead to collaboration.

The Urban Coffee Farm & Brew Bar is another example of our Young Designers Group being involved in projects that bring people together in re-imagined public spaces.

How has the Urban Coffee Farm project differed from other design projects you have been involved in?

Although not unique to our experience with the Urban Coffee Farm & Brew Bar, temporary projects in the public realm continue to intrigue us as designers. The effect that an unexpected insertion into a 'familiar' place can have on people's awareness and perception of their city is enormous.

Can you tell us about the process involved in developing the Farm’s layout? What were some of the key ideas that led to the final design? 

Revealing the story that is behind the journey of coffee was one of the key design drivers for the project. Visitors to the Urban Coffee Farm & Brew Bar will be able to move through a series of spaces reflecting that journey which starts at a hillside plantation in an exotic location and ends at our favourite cafe. 

Why are the red steps at Queensbridge Square important to the Farm’s design? What do they represent?

The red stairs are important because they provide a great vantage point for visitors to view over the Farm, Queensbridge Square and the Yarra, as well as evoking the terraced hillside topography typical of coffee plantations. 

Did you uncover any unusual facts/stories about coffee during the research and design process? 

Before it goes through the production process, the coffee 'bean' is actually called a 'cherry'. We also discovered that coffee is the second most traded product in the world after petroleum which is pretty amazing!

Can you explain the significance of the building materials in the design of the Farm?

We've used shipping containers, packing crates and timber pallets as a direct reference to the coffee journey and logistics in order to encourage visitors to think about where their favourite brew comes from.

Which area of the design is a particular favourite?

We all have different favourite parts of the project, but perhaps it's a tie between the 'tumble' of pallets which create a new landscape for visitors to occupy and the integration of the plants and red stairs into what we like to imagine as a 'take away jungle'.

Describe The Urban Coffee Farm & Brew Bar in three words.

Unexpected. Raw. Quirky. 

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