Café Society: Horse On Heels
Horse On Heels is designed by Melbourne-based Figureground Architecture, based in Fitzroy the cafe has an unique offering of handcrafted sweet and savory waffles. Horse On Heels was keen to build on the success of a smaller, take-away waffle venue established within a shipping container at the at the Queen Victoria night market. They wanted to create a minimalist yet warm and inviting experience that could be discovered behind an original heritage facade.
Horse On Heels: 50 Rose Street, Fitzroy, 3065, Melbourne.
Once inside, patrons enter under a suspended ‘waffle’ ceiling formed by a repetitive grid of pale plywood boxes. A glass display cabinet cantilevers from the side of a long counter tiled in earthy whites. Neutral tones continue to define the space with perforated ply panelling, cement sheet lining and raw concrete ceilings. Waffle based dining is a relatively untested model in Melbourne so it was critical for the design to provide for a variety of patron behaviours. Spaces have been carefully arranged into: an entry courtyard, external seating, waffle display counter, window seating, barista zone, waffle production area, kitchen view bench seating, small group seating, communal table and high table seating.
This diversity of zones allows for patrons to experience the venue in different ways – whether they are there to take away, stay for a quick coffee or longer for a meal. To dispel any sense of mystery, the production of the waffles is on full display, allowing patrons to sit along a long timber bench and chat to staff as they prepare the dough. The interior experience is one of calmness – defined by a muted palette broken up by textures such as mesh, earthy tiles, perforations and detailed metalwork. This project is an example of how hospitality design can engage patrons on various levels.
The design has a logical and diverse arrangement of seating opportunities. Use of pale materiality reflects light, allowing the internal spaces to be seen from the street. There is no kitsch theming – the process of making a waffle is referenced, but with relative subtlety and restraint. In the courtyard, the reinforcement mesh on the walls provides for a vertical garden, extending inside to draw and connect the external experience inwards. Spatial definition is achieved by employing bulkheads, columns, suspended ceilings, custom light fittings and fixed joinery elements.
Existing constraints such as exposed service pipes have become design opportunities by the creation of finely battened timber columns. Tying it all together is the ubiquitous waffle grid structure, repeating itself in various scales and locations.