|Project Name||Harbord Hotel||Posted in||Bars, Restaurants, Design, Interior Design||Location||
29 Moore Road
Freshwater NSW 2096Australia
|Architecture Practice||Alexander & CO.||Area (sqm)||695||Completed||December 2020|
Taking its name from the inter-war pavilion that it occupies, Harbord Hotel in Freshwater, one of Sydney’s suburban, once blue-collar northern beaches, is a new all-day bar and restaurant that now breathes new life into the historic community landmark that had fallen into complete disrepair. Local architectural practice Alexander & Co. drew from the neighbourhood’s working-class history and surf culture, combining the building’s architectural heritage with a surf shack aesthetic of cool sophistication, bespoke furnishings and handcrafted details that imbue the space with a nostalgic, old-school charm. Part laid-back hangout, part cultural melting pot courtesy of a rich program of live gigs, exhibitions and events, the venue encapsulates Freshwater’s rich history and young spirit, reclaiming its role as a meeting point for the local community.
Opened in 1928 and located a block from the beach, the Harbord Beach Hotel, as it was originally named, is a three-storey pavilion built in the Californian bungalow style with plenty of Art Deco influences. Having fallen into disuse after a series of haphazard refurbishments, the building was completely gutted and redesigned by Alexander & Co. in response to the new owners’ requirement for a more open, flexible and diverse venue. The historic exterior has also been meticulously refurbished to return to its original grandeur.
On the raised ground floor, a reception separates all-day restaurant named Balsa from a multi-purpose bar area, the former serving a pub menu inspired by the iconic surf strip that runs from Malibu to Mexico, while the latter offers zesty cocktails, coastal wines, and crisp Aussie beers as well as occasional live music sessions and stand-up comedy gigs. Meanwhile, on the first floor, a private functions and events area opens up to a spacious balcony, with plans for a recording studio and a rejuvenated rooftop on the second floor.
Underpinned by a muted colour palette of whites and creams mixed with splashes of seafoam greens, periwinkle pink and gunmetal greys, and marked by tactile materials like wood, marble, brass and ceramics, the revamped interiors channel the building’s Art Deco and Arts and Crafts influences while giving off a cool, beach-house vibe. “Our intention was that the venue’s story should evoke a sense of nostalgia without feeling excessively thematic”, the team says, describing their interior design as surf shack-cum-living room style.
Original archways, masonry detailing and stone flagged floors are complemented by more playful elements like curved bulkheads, tiled counters, terrazzo floors and timber clad ceilings made from spotted gum (an indigenous tree species). A retro-inspired collection of bespoke lighting and furniture pieces, including leather banquettes, cork and concrete tables and ceramic light sconces, round up Harbord Hotel’s tactile, textured interiors, whose laid-back, unpretentious sensibility is sure to appeal to young families, seasoned locals and surfers alike.