Take the Highroad

Tom Ferguson

A place for Canberra’s inner-north to call their own, without journeying into town in search of a unique hospitality experience.

The team behind ONA Coffee and The Cupping Room offered Foolscap a brief that strongly resonated with their own offerings’ principles: confident and specialist delivery of quality products, happy experimentation delivered with flair, remaining approachable and humble. The space warmly and easily transitions from day into night, encouraging guests to linger and treat Highroad as a home away from home.

The site had been inhabited by successive hospitality venues and as such, we utilised whichever existing building features possible without retaining any identifiable previous aesthetics. The result is a fresh and welcoming environment with an assured, contemporary Canberran personality. Like the bush surrounding our nation’s capital, raw and natural elements sit happily next to refined constructions, such as period cornices and stately wood panelling.

Materials, furniture and colour scheme reference the surrounding land- and city-scape and are rendered in a diverse, but complimentary, textural composition. The off-form concrete bar, poured in situ, is a strong nod to the Dickson Library just down the road. The library was designed by Enrico Taglietti, an architect whose practice has had a profound impact on Canberra’s vernacular since the 1960s.

Using Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) provided opportunity for experimentation. Guided by the topography of the mountains that embrace the city, this hard material was formed into organic shapes. The outcome is a sculptural centrepiece that draws patrons in, and likewise welcomes them with a protective hug.

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