Night and day

A new Christchurch bar, restaurant and nightclub combines retro grandeur with contemporary chic to create an intriguing, welcoming atmosphere at all times
view of the bar and seating areas featuring furniture, interior design, lobby, restaurant, table, black
view of the bar and seating areas featuring resin countertops, , woodgrained meltica and original wood floors, chandaliers

In the world of hospitality and entertainment, capturing the public's imagination is imperative. An environment that provides a varied feast for the eye as well as the palette not only encourages patrons to linger, but also return.

The new Liquidity restaurant and bar creates just such a visual feast, offering patrons an eclectic fusion of the retro, the right now and the unexpected. Created by the Alan Cowie Design team of Alan Cowie and John Ayers, with strong input from owner Hamish Mackenzie, Liquidity has risen phoenix-like from the nearly gutted interior of a previous bar, with only the heritage-protected ceilings and floors, and the kitchen and toilets, retained.

"We wanted to create a new, exciting and sustainable restaurant and bar that caters to a cross-section of clientele a venue that would stand out from the competition and do justice to its stunning riverside location," says Mackenzie.

"Major considerations for us were to utilise the volumetric qualities of the space, whilst improving the planning to accentuate the character of the building," adds Cowie.


view from the second level looking down at flooring, furniture, interior design, restaurant, room, table, red
view from the second level looking down at the restaurant seating area

Consequently the fitout involved relocating the original island bar to the side of the venue, not only creating a new bar utility, but providing for the addition of new seating areas, booths and private nooks. A complete overhaul of the lighting and entertainment systems also had to take into account the re-invention of an upstairs lounge area and an elevated DJ booth, with an array of eye-catching feature elements and surfaces then introduced throughout.

The first of these features, a mobile fire pit, comprising a table-height gas fire, protective glass panels and bench seating, sits outside Liquidity's entrance to provide a warm welcome for patrons. Overhead, a substantial glass overhang is made from flush-glazed glass, to enable an expansive yet seamless spread of glass, admitting light but not rain. Tucked under this, a mechanically operated awning can further extend protection from the elements. This is hand-painted in a retro wallpaper pattern similar to those found on the walls of Liquidity's interior.

Stepping through the entrance, a row of chandeliers greets the eye, their impact heightened by strategically positioned wall mirrors. To the left, columns covered in classic English wallpaper are interspersed with the mirrors and flush-set curtains, all combining to create a lush, retro feel. To the right, a bank of niche spaces rises above the bar area, each recess lined in the same London wallpaper, whilst the original, heritage-protected ceilings and floors augment the retro feel. The floor-to-ceiling elements, such as the steel grid and curtaining, together with the chandeliers, all serve to emphasise the venue's stud height.

The interior's classic features are in contrast to the ultra-modern Philippe Starck furniture outside and large galvanised steel ring lattices that create shadow plays on the wall in the rear dining area a space that also serves as a VIP or private lounge when appropriate. Seven LCD screens which can be utilised separately to play anything from a corporate private video to a screening of the latest test match and contemporary resin counter surfaces add to the sense of contrast.

view of the bar and seating areas featuring countertop, interior design, lighting, restaurant, orange
view of the bar and seating areas featuring resin countertops, , woodgrained meltica and original wood floors, chandaliers

"We also opened a closed-off internal window that provided a vista from the DJ room down to the bar area," says Cowie. "Patrons can always find new niches and features to capture their interest."

The overall impact is grand and intriguing, and Mackenzie wanted the same sense of high-end attraction on the menu. As well as fine fare and imported beers, Liquidity promotes Verve Clique champagne, as highlighted by the two vertical display structures of suspended champagne bottles. The venue also comes into its own as a nightclub; the metamorphosis enabled by a specially reserved space to the rear of the venue in which the daytime furniture can be stored.

"Liquidity could equally well have been named Diversity," suggests Mackenzie. "From its variety of visual elements to its adaptable-use options, it would certainly have no trouble living up to that name."

Sep 29, 2006
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