Bennelong serves to celebrate the Sydney Opera House and its extraordinary architecture by offering a culturally significant and inspiring menu showcasing a most magnificent production of Australian food and wine.
Executive Chef Peter Gilmore explains the philosophy that drives Bennelong:
“Bennelong is all about the provenance of the food we are serving. The menu is very much crafted in partnership with the farmers, fishermen, breeders and providores from across the land with whom our chefs work together with every day. It’s a two way process: we’re responding to what’s in season and the best of what producers are bringing us, but on another level, we are planning menus a season or two ahead, working hand-in-glove with our producers to develop ingredients tailored to Bennelong’s menus.
We’ve made sure the dining experience at Bennelong is accessible and flexible. Our cooking is not overly technical and tricky – it’s robust and direct – allowing the pure flavours of the ingredients to sing. We’ve enjoyed developing a whimsical dessert menu based on traditional Australian sweets, and the wine list, similarly – is a reflection of the best of Australia – without taking itself too seriously.”
A design strategy based on interpretation was employed by architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer for the Bennelong Restaurant, whereby the Utzon and Sydney Opera House design principles were distilled to create relevant contemporary use and expression.
A set of intimate and sophisticated dining spaces sit beneath the vast and dramatic Bennelong shells, looking out at Sydney’s most magnificent urban panorama.
The iconic Opera House podium informs the geometry of the restaurant, leading to a harmonious relationship between the interiors and overall monolithic structure, whilst simultaneously avoiding visual clashes between the interior and the shells’ spectacular geometry.
The restaurant has been ordered across three levels, based on the changing levels of the podium, and marks out three different dining moods: “The Restaurant” on the lower level, the “Cured, and Cultured” Bar on the mid-level, and the “The Circle” on the upper level.
This strategy allowed the restaurant operator to develop a broader range of patronage within one space, for those who want a quick pre-show supper to the all-evening diners.
The rectilinear forms that embrace each dining area are made up of visual layers, like the precast concrete podium steps.
Beyond this expressive function, the forms are made of acoustically absorbent grey felt that softens the acoustics and optimises conditions for dinner conversation.
The forms are trimmed with aged brass, echoing the original brass used throughout the Opera House.
The original Peter Hall designed ‘Fountain’ lights have been reinterpreted as lighting constellations made with Tom Dixon ‘Melt’ glass lamps. The five constellations respond to the vast scale of the restaurant space and make a visual connection to the night lights of the city.
The golden glow of the lamps complements the new brass tones throughout the interior detailing and set the ambiance for the restaurant whilst concealed up-lighting highlights the dramatic ribs of the concrete shells.
The Bennelong restaurant has evolved over its 40 years in parallel with the expectations of Sydney-siders. It is therefore highly likely that this restaurant will be re-modelled in the future.
To that end, all construction has been thought of as ‘reversible’ and can easily be removed.
All existing precast concrete has been retained and the fit-out structures have strategically been kept to a minimum.
The existing kitchen services and restaurant air conditioning plant and ducts work have been reused.
The redesign enabled the space to cater for double the previous capacity and, for the first time, to accommodate wheel-chair guests.
The Bennelong restaurant takes its place in the dramatic architectural continuum of the Sydney Opera House.
Embedded in the history of this legendary icon, the Bennelong reaches out to contemporary Sydney.
The Fink Group (as tenant to the Sydney Opera House Trust)
The Fink restaurant portfolio is united by a common vision of excellence in hospitality and service. The stable of restaurants includes four solely owned restaurants; Quay, Bennelong, OTTO Sydney and OTTO Brisbane, along with two partnerships; Firedoor and Beach Byron Bay.
Tonkin Zulaikha Greer
Tonkin Zulaikha Greer has a special interest in public spaces, public buildings and “edge” architecture, often providing buildings with roles and uses outside their traditional functions.
The crossover between art and architecture is a springing point for a design philosophy, which takes each project as a new challenge, without reliance on established precedents.
Constant reinvention of their architecture brings a surprising diversity to the completed projects, with an on-going sense of exploration and discovery.
The work is consistently and thoughtfully grounded by appropriateness and sustainability.
Profile Property Group
Profile Property Group is an award winning construction business based in the Paddington, Sydney. Since its inception in 2005, Profile has been the recipient of four Master Builders Association awards for a diverse range of properties.
Aver is an independent, privately-owned development and project Management consultancy providing strategic property expertise, advice and delivery across a wide range of project sectors including infrastructure, urban renewal, commercial, large lot residential and retail In Sydney and Melbourne.
Structural Engineering and Lighting Design
Arup is an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, architects, consultants and technical specialists, working across every aspect of today’s built environment.
JN is a full service, multi-disciplinary engineering firm serving the construction industry in NSW and Queensland for almost 50 years.
BM+G are a professional building regulation consulting firm focused on a range of services including Building Code Consultants and Accredited Certifiers.
Platinum Commercial Kitchens
Platinum Commercial Kitchens is a family owned business that has over 20 years experience as a leading supplier of commercial catering equipment and kitchen fitouts throughout Sydney.
Brett Stevens is an award winning food, travel and still-life Photographer based in Sydney, Australia.
His career spans the globe; regularly taking on assignments for esteemed international magazines, advertisers and publishing houses.
His signature style bestrides food, lifestyle, architecture, design and travel.
Brett is renowned for his ability to create innovative work that combines his technical considered eye with a playful organic freedom.
Inspired by design, architecture, and a bold aesthetic, Stevens sights the work of Geoffrey Smart, Joel Sternfeld, Gregory Crewdson, and Edward Burtynsky as but a few who capture his ideals of creative expression.
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Design © 2020 Tonkin Zulaikha Greer. All Rights Reserved.| Images © 2020 Brett Stevens. All Rights Reserved.
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