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Success in spite of adversity

Located in the heart of Lyttelton, Christchurch, is earthquake battler and local institution Freemans Restaurant.

Nic Curragh of Objects Ltd won the Commercial Interior Architectural Design Award sponsored by GIB for Freemans Restaurant at this year's ADNZ | Resene Architectural Design Awards.

The challenging re-modelling project consisted of design and construction phases that had to work around maintaining business continuity while also enduring disruptive earthquake after-shocks.

The richly detailed design saw Freemans reconfigured and organised to provide a series of dining arrangements that suited the needs of the establishment.

The spatial intimacy Nic Curragh achieved through the design was praised by judges.

“Ordinary materials of a consistently high quality are detailed in such a way as to make them special. Fittings and fixtures are well selected to work with the overall spatial and material theme," they said.

Of special note was the bespoke cedar louvre wall which serves to provide an acoustic as well as visual dividing element between the bar and dining functions. And the folded plate steel bar surround and frontage which frames the subtle angular layout and accommodates a small scale coffee roaster, bar leaner and additional beer and wine taps.

Black melamine on Birch plywood was chosen for all the timber joinery to complement the cold oxide finish applied to the steel plate. Above the bar, a cedar beam supported on a steel angle cantilevers over an existing steel beam to provide glass storage overhead - it also cleverly avoids spoiling the effect with a supporting structure.

The complex design is rich in detail but has a restrained material finish creating a refined atmosphere for the successful fine dining restaurant.

Freemans is another story of resilience brought about by the Canterbury earthquakes which is well worth celebrating.

By the end of January 2012 the newly remodelled Freemans Restaurant had reached twice its pre-earthquake turnover - partly because of the limited number of restaurants open in Christchurch – but also due to the talented, determined and focused team working on the project.