HWKR by Craig Tan Architects is a new Asian-style hawker market with a dynamic twist.
February 20th, 2018
Last June, Melbourne’s much-anticipated Eq. Tower by Elenberg Fraser – comprising 65 futuristic, sky-scraping storeys of reflective glass – was completed. Since then, the project’s patrons have been looking for tenants to activate the ground-floor levels with a retail concept capable of standing up to Eq.’s trafficked location and animated façade.
HWKR, a new Asian market-style offering, has won out as the permanent occupant of the tower’s lower levels. Except, there’s not much that’s permanent about HWKR at all. Backed by developer ICD Property and delivered in collaboration with BrandWorks, the food-driven offering is unique for its rotating tenancies.
The idea is that celebrated chefs will be invited to fill the various kitchens for three-month slots, after which the spaces are re-invigorated with new Asian-inspired menus. Such a dynamic concept needed a dynamic design to match – not to mention a functionality that bridged commercial viability and flexible branding.
Craig Tan Architects was put in charge of creating the solution, with a brief to create a 200-seat venue that drew on specific elements of hawker markets while reinterpreting them for a modern clientele. This aesthetic sensibility needed to be rolled out across four revolving tenant kiosks that were backed with high technological capability. Obviously, the revolving element meant that the branding couldn’t align too closely with any one particular brand or style. The challenge then became to create a design identity for HWKR itself.
The final concept is split into groups of three: three distinct ‘pavilions’ and ‘squares’, spread over several levels, that house different styles of dining and seating.
The first of these hawker-style squares, on street level, is home to HWKR’s only permanent tenant, Manymore. A charitable outpost that is café by day, bar by night, the service bar itself was necessarily the key design element.
For this, Craig Tan Architects conceived of “a starkly sculptural, brick-clad bar” as a gritty foil to the timber used elsewhere throughout the project, such as in the bleacher seats that line the space. The bar is further softened by a series of “ethereal” floating Japanese lanterns along the roof.
The second square houses the primary drawcard of HWKR: its four revolving food kiosks. To accommodate these, the architect created a split level that allows physical and aesthetic breathing space within the narrow-yet-crowded venue. The kiosks themselves are unbranded in a manner that still aligns with the vibrancy of HWKR, “each one featuring shimmering dimpled gold textures that are overlaid [with] grey mesh tenancy skins”. Even the exposed ducting and services along the ceiling are camouflaged according to theme, woven into a “sky” that is painted in the HWKR brand colours and up-lit with neon for graphic effect.
The third area is located behind one of these neon features, emoji-shaped to complement the HWKR logo. This final space is for amenity rather than aesthetic. It is where the preparation areas, cool rooms and storage facilities are tucked out of sight of diners.
The first round of HWKR tenants have been announced as Masterchef 2017 winner Diana Chan with her Malaysian/Singaporean fusion concept, CHANTEEN; fellow Masterchef veteran, Reynold Poernomo, with his Sydney-based KOI and Monkey’s Corner eateries; Khao, the new venture from Melbourne’s Rice Paper Scissors; and Hong Kong sandwich shop, Bread & Beast.
Despite the (relative) diversity of these offerings, Craig Tan Architects has created a temporary shell that pays homage to the pop-ups respective pan-Asian roots; a balance of traditional and modern market features overlaid with a graphic kawaii sensibility that fits perfectly into its Melbourne context. No doubt, the next tenants will find their three-month home just as accommodating.
Take a look at another project by Craig Tan Architects, Hawker Hall in Prahran.
Get more stories like this straight to your inbox. Sign up for our newsletter.
Keep up to date with the latest and greatest from our industry BFF's!
Spain’s Kriskadecor offers architects and interior designers untold design possibilities with their chain link solutions – from space dividers to wall-coverings, ceiling flourishes and more.
The Foundation Building in the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Moreton Bay campus fosters a sense of student community through its forward-thinking design and intelligent choice of materials.
CSM’s new Work Aisles range shows that smart storage can be more than just where you can keep personal items at the office, but also the key to enhanced connection and productivity.
The designers of physical retail and hospitality experiences are well aware that the digital presence of a project has rapidly grown in importance. With this evolution has come almost an entirely new understanding of how the physical and digital interact.
Giving “vegan dining the glamour it’s been missing”, Shannon Martinez has launched Smith & Deli, a colossal vegan dining hub in Collingwood.
Raise the topic of hospitality and retail and your mind instantly jumps to far-out fit-outs and awe-inspiring interiors. But before you even reach that finished product, there are many moving parts to negotiate first.
The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed
King recently teamed up with three Sydney designers of note, to explore the deep connections they hold to particular furniture pieces. In this first instalment, Tom Mark Henry’s Jade Nottage contemplates meaningful moments and lasting legacies with the Issho Dining Table.
We’re kicking off 2022 with a little reminder that there are some incredible events on the horizon. Take a look at the program from Melbourne Design Week 2022 and check out what’s on at the 23rd Sydney Biennale.
We couldn’t pick all of our favourites, but here’s a small sample of the best hospitality projects produced this year.