Sugo Cafe

"Sugo" is a café/bar in Hobart, Tasmania, located at the centre of the architecturally unremarkable but commercially successful Salamanca Square development.  The client came to us with a name for the venture, a clear idea of the food and beverage concept and a very limited budget.  The design formed around these three parameters and in response to the client's strong design sensibility and their requirement for a distinctive result that would make its "mark" on the local café/food scene.

The design was conceived in the iconic Hobart pizzeria, "Silvano's", mulling over the red checkered tablecloths and the proposed name of the café - "Sugo" (Italian for sauce).  The idea of a blood red room, formed from nothing but paint, tables, chairs and a single formal gesture in the form of the main bar, was a response to the need for a strong identity and minimal budget. The project also offered the opportunity for an "internalized" small-scale test of some recurring TERROIR motifs - the dialogue between monumental, "permanent" actions and more flippant "temporary" elements, an interest in the tendency of architecture toward sculpture and the potential of a strategic idea to drive the design process and outcome.

Thus, the perimeter walls are painted red straight onto the basic substrate, while budget limitations required the concrete floor and ceiling to be left "as is." "Sugo" graphics and services/lighting conduit are the only additions to this basic intervention.  The centerpiece of the composition - and the only real "architectural" component - is a 12m long bar bent around into a "u" to form a central catwalk for the "baristas" and waiting staff.  The unfinished concrete floor and ceiling, coupled with a desire to limit the material palette, led to the design of the bar as a monumental sculpture, formed insitu from 6 cubic metres of concrete.  The block form of the bar is cut, adjusted and eroded according to the pragmatic requirements of cashier, display, preparation and so on.  

The brutality and scale of this object makes its presence felt both within the café space and within the context of the more conventional eateries at Salamanca Square.

Photography by Richard Eastwood