The heritage listed Cairns Regional Gallery, with its neo-classical colonnades and porticos, required an expansion of its café to provide an extensive permanently shaded, weather protected area and a new bar facility.
TPG Architects completed the gallery conversion some three years earlier, responding with this brief by hanging a battened steel and timber planar structure over an existing timber deck. Like a high-tech umbrella, the roof hangs on stainless steel ties, floating in front of the heritage façade. A thin yellow line of drop-down awnings compliment the use as a bright outdoor café. Slightly tilted towards the gallery’s main entry, the space opens up to the city centre, tempting passersby on Cairns’ main pedestrian boulevard.
The few structural connections to the existing buildings are exposed bolted-on connections, exaggerating the fact that the whole structure is just sitting there and can be unbolted any time. This creates a feeling of only touching the building in a temporary manner.
The new bar area for the café was built into an existing balcony of the main gallery. Previously, full height glass panels were opened and wrapped around the old columns and fitted with a concealed drop down door. The new bar, constructed of 6mm-thick galvanised plate steel, thrusts out through this new opening.