Olinda Tea House

The Olinda Tea House is a modern pavilion-style building in the Dandenong Ranges at 86a Olinda-Monbulk Road, Olinda. Located centrally on an existing clear area it is designed to maximise the north solar access and the views down the valley to the west and north-west.

As the land slopes away the floor level and surrounding deck become elevated, affording grand views over the garden below and the flower farm adjacent. The entry experience is enhanced by a series of staged-revealment elements: from the dense planting and screen fence that conceals the car park, to the prominent curved earth wall providing an initial southern garden focus, and finally to the entry ‘portal’ opening further along the curved wall.

Its floor level is set to allow easy disabled access from the existing car park area. Access within the building and to all decks, walkways and garden gazebos is also level and disability-friendly.

As a pavilion, the building utilises a ‘floating’ butterfly roof form atop expansive glazed walls and is surrounded by generous timber-planked decks that enhance the indoor–outdoor transition. The main structural timber elements including roof beams and posts are engineered laminated pine. Two ‘island’ enclosed gazebos used for individual functions are linked to the Tea House by a timber walkway, and their style mirrors that of the main building.

The materials chosen are low maintenance and the colours sympathetic with the natural environment. Around the café outdoor deck are pre-rusted corten steel balustrade panels that have been laser cut with designs by local artists of iconic Mt Dandenong imagery. The al fresco deck faces north and is protected with an adjustable louvre roof system to shelter and shade as required.

The functional service area containing kitchen, stores and toilets is plugged on to the east end as a low level flat-roofed element clad in rough-sawn western red cedar timber boards. Rainwater is collected and stored for re-use in tanks located at the rear of the building. Rooftop solar panels provide both hot water and electricity generation.

Smith + Tracey are proud to have been associated with such a successful project and thank the Lin family for entrusting us with architectural and interior design services to help realise their dream, the cafe has become an icon in the Olinda region.

Winner: Timber Awards 2011

International Timber Design Magazine 2012