Leyla, meaning ‘night’ in Arabic, is here for use both day and night in Canberra. The hospitality space is designed by Luchetti Krelle, whose bold concepts and highly resolved details bring a lavish contemporary lens to the city.
February 13th, 2023
Canberra has a history of some of the best architecture in Australia, and some of the most mundane. Great modernist buildings sit tooth by jowl with the crummiest housing while rare gems such as Roy Grounds’ Shine Dome are strewn throughout. Interiors in particular are polar, with a lot of very solid, very safe corporate-diplomat style lodging, countered by the new wave of design-led hospitality sweeping the capital.
The latest to join the change is the Burbury Hotel from DOMA, where Leyla by Luchetti Krelle is beautifully ensconced to sit high above Canberra’s low-rise skyline for sweeping views across Lake Burley Griffin, Barton and the city.
Punctuating the main room is a set of perfectly placed circular skylights. With plants blurring the boundary between interior and exterior at the skylight rims, Luchetti Krelle has delivered the seventies obsession for potted plants with their usual flair for the unexpected. They have also solved the issues of working inside an original glass box envelope with no expansion possibilities and limited wall area to add structural or aesthetic interest.
“We addressed the issue by creating focal points in the ceiling, lining an existing row of oculi with shallow internal circular ledges studded with verdant plants to give patrons a sense of socialising outdoors especially during daytime hours when natural light pours within,” says co-principal Rachel Luchetti. Another large plant in fact sits below one of the skylights from the centre of a bespoke caramel leather round seating installation.
Related: Mount Pleasant Wines by Luchetti Krelle
The tones are warm with travertine floors echoed by a canopy of timber beams and leather banquettes. Arranged as a series of iterations rather than a repeating motif, the banquettes range from semicircular booths with additional seating to the divine niches which have been tucked into the wall via arched entries. “We blocked off the additional entry to the two rooms from the lift corridors to install encircling booths, creating the most private zones in the room,” says Luchetti.
The walls of two private circular booths replicate the motif, with battens stretching from the floor to ceiling in thinner lineal arrangements. Effectively covering all needs, the booths facilitate intimate working environments for hotel guests during the day and private breakout areas for small groups in the evenings.
A totally gorgeous semi-circular piece of onyx floats upwards like a full moon rising behind the solid central bar (thanks to the addition of a complimentary mirror.) At night the onyx takes on a pearlescent glow which shimmers through the shelves of bottles it supports.
Metallic elements including the bar’s custom solid brass footrail and the golden Wever & Ducré folded sconces sit comfortably with the Scarpa-like stepped inlay facade of the bar and exaggerated lip of the curved counter. Carved from plywood and meticulously layered in oyster grey polished plaster, the counter is a delight. The layered contours of the saucer-like twin vintage chrome pendants match the circular bar tables.
There is however, nothing retro about Leyla. Rather, the space carefully balances the retro-futuristic themes of these pieces with soft leather furnishings, including custom upholstered bar stools and chairs in antique rose fabric, as well as the vibrant olive marble tables within the private booths. The mood is light and fresh with plenty of space for both day and night use.
Operable windows along the northern side of the space expand the volume exponentially, while lounges positioned along its perimeter allow more to enjoy the views. In warmer seasons, the glass ‘walls’ fold up towards the ceiling to create an instant covered outdoor balcony with waist height glass balustrades enhancing the view.
Transitioning from a sunlit café to a retro-futuristic bar with Kubrickian flair, Leyla’s highly sculpted space melds Scarpa-esque design elements of plump curves and arched enclosures. And, while these elements are clear, it is their pairing with the warm tones of leather, spatial sequencing of the pillars and oculi, and the view that brings this fabulous hospitality space to life.
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