Our client came to us with a leasing agreement for the historical post office building on a corner site on the edge of popular Ponsonby in Auckland, New Zealand. The site was notorious for being unsuccessful for numerous operators prior to his occupancy. He wanted our input to create a desirable destination to attract locals and visitors from further afield.

Project Name: Hotel Ponsonby
Studio Name: CTRL Space
Completion date: 2020
Location: Auckland CBD, New Zealand
Photography: Jono Parker

Hotel Ponsonby by CTRL Space - Sheet1
Dining Space ©Jono Parker

Having worked with the client before, we knew his strengths as an operator and his eye for style, which were great foundations for enhancing the building’s rich history. With good insight into the existing demographic within Ponsonby and after seeing the success of his most recent bar and osteria Lilian in Grey Lynn, we expected that a similar look and feel could be perfect for the site.

We wanted to reflect a sense of history to support the age and exterior of the building. With this in mind, and being aware of a gap in the market, we conceptualised a casual, yet charming pub concept.

The client was interested in the 1930s era and, more specifically, in hotel bars, hence the name Hotel Ponsonby. We drew on form, colour and materials from old pubs in the UK and hotel spaces within Australia, curating a balance of a modern atmosphere with old-style character.

Hotel Ponsonby by CTRL Space - Sheet2
Outdoor Dining ©Jono Parker

We wanted all finishes to look and feel true to the concept, and still be trendy enough for locals and visitors to Ponsonby. Striking a balance of approachability and style was vital to ensure longevity and popularity.

The back bar is perhaps the strongest reference to a hotel – reminiscent of a classic reception check-in desk. In particular, the rich and grand handcrafted timberwork and rhythmic fluted details in the panelling, glass and tube lighting are distinctive.

Other typical, softer, hotel-style features in the dining room are the nostalgic Axminister carpet, traditional wall lights, lush velvet fabric and linen lamps.

Hotel Ponsonby by CTRL Space - Sheet3
Interior ©Jono Parker

Traditional pub details like the green vinyl tabletops, green leather bench seating and brown detailed wall panels demarcate the pub area. Clear space separation between the pub and hotel areas reinforces the visually separate zones for casual drinking and table service dining.

The dining tables were designed with hexagon-shaped tops. We wanted to ensure we could achieve a modular application that could be shuffled around to suit different group sizes without using the standard squares.

Initially, we wanted to install acoustic panels with a real rattan overlay to disguise them, but this wasn’t possible within the budget. Instead, we used innovative, printed acoustic panels from Autex that achieve a similar look.

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