Finalist 2020

Ona Coffee

Breathe Architecture

Ona is about more than coffee, it’s about giving back to its community. It’s about a new sense of place – an open space, a meeting place, a playground, a stage.

Designed to be carbon neutral in operations, Ona is 100% electric with 20kW of solar. Any remaining energy requirements are provided using 100% GreenPower. A rigorous carbon audit was undertaken to offset any greenhouse gas emissions.

Ona’s Melbourne HQ represents the ethical ethos of Ona’s mission: to work with farmers from around the world ensuring a fair trade strategy that sees farmers valued, treated with respect and future livelihoods protected.

Design Excellence

Ona wanted to establish its headquarters, training academy and cafe in Melbourne. Rather than a spot on a main road, they chose back-street industrial Brunswick to create an urban coffee sanctuary as a thank you to loyal wholesale customers and to excite new Ona drinkers.

Rather than more space for chairs and tables or cars, a multilevel amphitheatre, that in time will be run wild with greenery, was built by locals and for locals. Sun-drenched but shaded by natives, this built space is for coffee drinkers, Melbourne food lovers, dogs, kids, prams, wheelchairs.

Design Impact

Not only has this urban sanctuary quickly become a destination for Melbourne’s coffee connoisseurs, a new sense of place has been created in gritty Brunswick. A place for customers during business hours, a meeting place for locals and play space for kids after hours. Opening weekend saw the who’s who of Melbourne’s coffee community sampling Ona’s innovative, sustainable coffees, and intrigued locals drinking in the flavour and soaking up the rays. With the impact of Covid-19, the timber decking became imperative to provide as much of Ona’s seating requirements as possible in an outdoor space.

Design Transformation

Ona’s new space firmly represents Melbourne and the high standard of coffee the city expects. Sustainability practices in this space reflect Ona’s values. The outdoor timber decking works to prioritise people over cars and within the space there are a hierarchy of moments: custom moveable communal tables, bar seating, banquette seating, table and chair configurations, mobile waiter’s stations and a multi-purpose mezzanine. Ona is an inviting, humble and personal space to enjoy, appreciate and learn about coffee.

Design Innovation

Ona celebrates the existing building, showcasing the materiality and history of the space. Building less to give more. Sustainability initiatives such as being fossil fuel free in operations with 20kW of solar, 5000 litre rain water tanks, organics waste streams, locally sourced and recycled materials, natural light and ample bike parking were incorporated to complement the fledgling urban forest created outside. We worked with Ona to eliminate single use cups and importantly, made accessibility a feature in the design.

Other Key Features

The espresso bar takes pride of place. Clad in reclaimed offcuts of bricks diverted from landfill, the espresso bar features custom stainless steel and hardwood timber bench-tops. Complementing the front of house is a fully equipped commercial kitchen, cool room, storage and bin room; allowing the full café experience. The light touch approach adopted in this fit-out riffs off the natural character of the building and of Brunswick, and in doing so provides a space that can grow with the community.

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