A compact wine and tapas bar located on the harbour foreshore at walsh bay Sydney opened in 2004 has stood the test of time.

The client brief on this project was to create an interior that was 'Melbourne genre' neighbourhood wine bar, within what is essentially an external space.

We responded with a very theatrical experience, a nod to the Sydney Dance and Theatre Companies that neighbour the site. Patrons wine and dine on an elevated viewing platform that punctuates the regular flow of the promenade, providing a stage for socialising. We further tiered the dining platform to enhance view opportunities with the working harbour providing the entertainment.

Finishes are highly polished and reflective to create a feeling of theatre and glamour in contrast to the industrial feel of the harbourside precinct. Custom illuminated bollards mark the boundary of the upper tier adding drama to the space by night. Candles add a warm ambience and reflect in the screening element of polished stainless steel and copper sections; a reference to the Firefly.

The screening element conceals the service area while adding movement and dimension to the space.

The sense of theatre is complete when the 'props' ( tables, cocktail tables ,bollards, chairs, cushions and candles ) are removed and entire operation is packed up overnight and concealed behind glass bi-fold doors.

The execution of the typical 'outdoor' dining experience at bars and cafes on the edge of Sydney Harbour is temporary and casual. Tables and chairs are randomly placed on the promenade with an umbrella for shade. The interior is the primary focus of the design. At times the internal design elements are repeated outside as an introduction to the experience inside.

Our design approach focused on exploring and manipulating the outside space. There were two main design objectives, first was to achieve a stand alone space, second was to reinforce connection to site and remain sympathetic to the surrounding building fabric of the wharf precinct. A screen element was derived from the extensive use of louvres separates the service areas from the dining areas.

We set out to create a 'little experience' within the greater experience of the Walsh Bay re-development. The location became the principal driver influencing the details, materials and colour selection so that the design sits seamlessly and harmoniously within the greater context of the heritage precinct.

The design attempts to advance the idea of outside dining to create a moody, intimate and theatrical space, essentially outdoors. A suspended glass canopy provides the only shelter from the elements.

Firefly was shortlisted in the 2004 IDEA awards Hospitality section.

© arnoldlane