Tedesca is a restaurant of memory. Its built fabric entwines past and present, binding them inseparably to evoke memories of experience, place, and atmosphere that lie waiting in our minds like unlit fires. It is architecture as an apparatus that facilitates connection, taking visitors to a place where art, wine, nature, architecture, food and fire forge new memories on the strongest of foundations.
Project Name: Tedesca
Studio Name: Cox Architecture
Project size: 360 m2
Completion date: 2019
Building levels: 1
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Photography: James Broadway, William Cassell, Tommy Miller
Where architecture and hospitality regularly eschew what already stands in favour of a blank canvas, Tedesca places inherent value in preserving what has already been built, teasing out beauty from the prosaic. The architectural intervention is an act of reanimation; bringing the tired weatherboards of the site to life as the Osteria – gallery and restaurant, Graceburn – the house as family retreat, and the Glasshouse, a bed and bath in the landscape. Space is shaped from within and without, imbuing the trio of buildings with a character they could not have had with an approach that cleared the land. The most dramatic interventions – new glazing, chimneys and a 12m steel beam all seek the establishment of each building in the landscape or seek to intensify the impression of the Red Hill landscape perceived from the interior. Anchored by a single hand-drawn floor plan, the project’s construction took place as an extended work of improvisation, made possible by the skill and commitment of architect, chef, builder, bricklayer, furniture maker, painter… affording a constant feedback loop of design, reflection and informed corrections to the charted course.
At the Osteria, food and the rituals of eating are treated reverentially, an ethos which resonates in the architecture’s strong sense of hierarchy. Three altars – kitchen, bar and dining table are placed to engineer the creation of a church-like nave, crossing and transept with wood oven and grill as foci. Three deceivingly black timber pieces, detailed for beauty and a lifetime of daily use, are masterfully crafted by furniture maker Damien Wright from 10,000-year-old, partly petrified Murray redgum. They establish not only axial relationships but the orchestration, the dance of the restaurant. This is a platform for assembly, its design inextricably linked to the purposeful way the food and wine are so lovingly produced. Emphasising the sensory combination of music, scent and colour by the flickering firelight, the subtleties and nuance of the experience are allowed space to take centre stage. Slow food meets slow architecture.
Graceburn and Tedesca have been a test bed for process at Cox Architecture. Shaping spaces with things collected, commissioned or made by the project team has produced an uncommonly textured space, layered with lustrous objects of vastly varying opacities, reflectivity and form. The project is the beginning of a way of working that produces intense experiences with fewer resources, purposeful design for public life that aims to create vivid new analogue memories for a digital world.