CAC Restaurant is a visually stunning bar & eatery, celebrating the striking features of a unique building in a sophisticated environment.
CAC occupies an historic 1920’s heritage-listed bluestone building that once housed the Colonial Ammunition Company (C.A.C.), a Mount Eden landmark. Originally founded to produce military ammunition in fear of a Russian invasion, the foundry also boasted a 35m high tower, from which lead shot was dropped to produce shotgun cartridges.
To produce a unique metropolitan eatery, CAC has been stripped back to the bare beams and infused with a Moorish flavour in decor, making the most out of its nineteenth-century earthy walled environment.
To design and provide a lighting system that offered atmospheric lighting for day and night for a busy functioning restaurant, while conserving the original ambience. Despite the simplicity of the brief, its translation into technical reality presented numerous complications/challenges.
- Aesthetics Lighting Solutions was contracted after the construction process had begun and certain lighting decisions were irreversible.
- The light fittings should be concealed into and yet emphasise (feature) the building’s structure. The light system had to serve the needs of a vibrant restaurant while ensuring the integrity of the building’s original character was not compromised.
- The stone and wooden framework presented few positions to install light fittings and conceal the wiring to them.
- To provide suitable lighting for the facade and entrance to attract patrons.
- To accentuate the mezzanine from the atmosphere of the ground level, thus creating separate but complimentary scenes within the restaurant.
- To work within tight budget constraints.
- To keep operating and maintenance costs to a minimum.
To preserve the authenticity of the surroundings and provide adequate illumination, the concept was to draw attention towards the dining areas and periphery of the internal spaces. The old timber trussed ceiling was a premium feature area that deserved attention, and was quickly identified as a focal point from which to bring the whole wooden framework to life.
Scene set lighting control would allow adjustment of light levels to respond to the needs of the daytime or night time dining experience.
The entrance was of paramount importance and had to be visually enticing, both to attract patrons and accentuate the tall, modern symmetry of this aspect of the interior design. The front entrance signage was required to be easily seen at night, presenting an opportunity to be spectacular and brightly lit, to imply a vibrancy and welcoming character.
The result of this concept was a design based on a combination of fluorescent and halogen light fittings, in conjunction with a lighting control system that could amalgamate several scenes and provide the necessary light levels. Internally, wiring constraints meant light fittings were needed that could achieve more than one effect, so luminaire technology needed to be carefully selected to provide the appropriate lux levels and prevent glare issues.
The wooden beams spanning the ceiling area provided the perfect mounting point from which to achieve the desired effect. Fluorescent lighting was inserted between rafters to wash both upwards into the ceiling cavity, and/or downwards onto the main dining area, resembling a skylight effect. Dimming and circuitry control of the fluorescent fittings was the key to maintaining a balance between subtle, ambient lighting and direct impact lighting. Twin circuited Edge Blade fittings were sandwiched between the rafters, resulting in a minimal physical impact on the space.
Hidden recessed lighting under the bar and benches above the entry to the toilet areas were carefully positioned to trickle lighting down the textured wall coverings, creating patterns of shadow on the fabric that enhanced the Moorish mood while remaining inconspicuous.
Situated in the midst of high-density housing in a previous industrial area, street appeal through the lighting solution was crucial to CAC’s success. 12v 50w halogen downlights under the eaves highlight the stone walls to subtle effect, and allow the glow to be visible from the inside.
IP-rated fluorescent 2 x 54w Slot Blade was positioned to light the signage, entranceway and footpath. On arrival at the front doors a further effect of energetic red light beckons the patron inside. This has been achieved by red encased fluorescent tubes mounted on either side of the stairwell to the mezzanine.
The lighting design for CAC Restaurant is a successful blend of functional brightness with sensitive consideration of the surroundings. By concealing dimmable fluorescent fittings within the framework of the building and intelligent use of lighting control, the dining and bar areas are strategically lit according to the needs of the client.
Externally, the CAC front signage, the entry foyer and stairwell area is an explosion of colour and bright light that creates a sense of entertainment in stark contrast to the surrounding buildings. The simple use of halogen downlights within the outside eaves complete the overall effect.