City of Melbourne gears up for outdoor seating

melbourne outdoor seating

Melbourne’s upcoming challenge of a COVID-19 summer of might be solved by architecture.

International architecture firm BVN has branched into a grass roots solution for COVID-19, bringing people together safely and supporting hospitality businesses that are re-opening after lockdown. It says the solution it found for New York might just be the answer for Melbourne too.

Re-ply, the brainchild of BVN’s New York studio, capitalised on the plywood hoarding that shop fronts installed in the wake of COVID-19 and nationwide protests. As the city slowly started to open up, and restaurants were allowed to have outdoor dining, BVN repurposed the redundant plywood to create outdoor furniture for cafés and bars. “Roads once full of cars became extensions of the sidewalk, and re-ply’s furniture started to populate the new alfresco spaces,” the firm says.

Local artists engaged to paint on the plywood added a level of community connection to a city that had faced harsh lockdown laws, riots, and civil unrest.

Re-ply had enormous success in New York, embraced by well-known hospitality venues, the Wayan, Gramercy Tavern, and most recently, Tribeca Grill.

“Thank you to the team at re-ply for their great initiative. We appreciate their attention to detail and creative approach in repurposing plywood and fabricating furniture to help restaurants with outdoor dining,” says Cedric Vongerichten, Chef and Owner of Wayan Restaurant.

Rani Yadav, Chief Marketing Officer for Gramercy Tavern, says, “When building Gramercy Tavern’s outdoor dining space, we were so glad to find a like-minded organisation in re-ply, whose commitment to both sustainability and community aligns so closely with ours. Not only did re-ply intercept raw material otherwise destined for a landfill, they transformed it to create a beautiful new way for our guests to experience Gramercy Tavern.”

BVN say Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp is looking to replicate the same solution for Melbourne, applying New York’s idea of outdoor dining, taking up car laneways to implement extra outdoor dining space for a community re-emerging after COVID-19.

Re-ply furniture comes in a kit of parts, easily reconfigurable for street dinning. The product has evolved to create outdoor covered structures, to assist with visual demarcation, and to cover the outdoor dining space. This enables wet weather options and protection from the sun. The kit of parts and structures are all resourced from recycled timber and materials. The plywood manufacturing process of the furniture is incredibly simple to assemble and is also environmentally recyclable.

BVN calls Melbourne “a city of artist and art lovers”. This opens an area of dialogue between re-ply and artists to bring life back to the once bustling city of Melbourne.

As in New York, a portion of proceeds will go to charity. For Melbourne, this will be Beyond Blue. Calls from Victorians to mental health support services have been overwhelming, making up half of all calls to these organisations, evidence that residents are under increased emotional and mental strain.

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Image: Wayan in New York

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