MelbourneEating Out


Architects rise to the challenge at tricky Melbourne restaurant...

Welcome to Tonka in Melbourne’s CBD, which despite the name has got nothing to do with the old school toy cars apart from the use of steel as an important material (the name comes from the previous tenant, nightspot Honky Tonks). Now a restaurant and bar, transforming the venue was not without its challenges for Techné Architects.

The 400sqm space is long and thin, so the dining area and bar were placed at either end with the kitchen as a central focal point. Another issue was a lack of natural light, with windows at one end the only source. It’s not too noticeable – we were too busy admiring features such as Naomi Troski‘s beautiful white steel mesh installation Drift overhead. One problem that turned out to be an advantage was the long wait for building work to be completed. As the restaurant was part of a larger building-wide renovation it took a while to get done, but Techné director Nicholas Travers told We Heart that it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it afforded plenty of opportunity for his team and the owners to negotiate the obstacles they faced. This is our kind of problem solving.


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Photography, Shannon McGrath