In May 2016 I was engaged by well known Lyttelton locals Rushani and Jonny Bowman to assist in the development of their outdoor cafe - 'Rushani's'. This was a project they had been chipping away at for many months. They had already purchased a mobile cafe trailer and had secured an excellent site on the main drag of Lyttelton but were not quite sure how to go about putting it all together on site.
Like so many of the empty lots around Christchurch, the weedy wilderness had taken hold and it was looking somewhat derelict (as you can see from the picture).
The design brief basically read as follows:
- locate and orient the mobile cafe/trailer
- express the core values of Rushani & Jonny
- allow for comfortable seating and ease of flow from the street
- a simple design that is easy to construct and budget conscious
- look at the feasibility of housing chickens on site
- retain an area at the rear of the property for parking
- design appropriate fencing or screens to define the site
- incorporate areas for lush planting both edible & aesthetic.
From our first site meeting, it was immediately obvious, with the property's prominent position and sunny aspect, that there was fantastic potential to create the green and inviting space they needed. I could definitely see why they were so excited about this location!
I realised very quickly, with the sunken nature of the site, that a well designed timber decking would lie at the heart of the solution. The main benefits of a large deck were twofold. Firstly, it would allow us to hide the trailers chassis and bring the cafe's floor flush with the surrounding area. No unnecessary steps! Secondly, it would help us to avoid bringing in copious amounts of hard-fill which would likely be costly and require resource consent. Getting the levels right would be critical to the success of this concept and having a decking made this significantly easier.
An important part of Rushani and Jonny's brief was to incorporate as many herbs, edible flowers and fruits as possible. Therefore, great care was taken to find a good balance between providing adequate functional space for customers whilst still allowing plenty of productive garden area.
As budget and speed of construction were also key parts of the brief, I invited Vern Dartnall from Mayfair Park Landscapes to get involved before the final concept was finalised. As I prefer to do more and more these days, involving the contractor as early as possible has many advantages. In this case, Vern provided excellent cost estimates which helped steer decisions regarding choice of materials and the inclusion or exclusion of different ideas.
With a very tight schedule in place, Mayfair Park Landscapes were onsite doing set-outs the very day the plans were finished!
Rushani & Jonny also engaged me to oversee the construction. Being present to answer any questions the contractors had during the build certainly helped to ensure the concept was realised true to plan and in the best way possible and it helped put Rushani and Jonny's minds at ease.
Now that the cafe has been in action for 6 months its wonderful to see the gardens putting on good growth and the space getting lots of use. Next time you are Lyttelton - pop in - you won't regret it. Jonny's coffee is top notch and Rushani's cooking is top shelf!
Last week the North Canterbury community of Ohoka celebrated 10 years since the beginning of their bush restoration project.
Would you believe that I first started my landscape design business way back in 2001.