Torn from the pages of the real deal in Singapore and Malaysia, HWKR in Melbourne’s CBD is a futuristic and fresh hawker-hall concept, pieced together by Craig Tan Architects and Brand Works. Commissioned by ICD Property and officially opened last month, it’s located on the ground floor of their award-winning Eq. Tower on A’Beckett Street, and features not one but four state-of-the-art commercial kitchens. It’s a little like Frasers’ Spice Alley in Sydney, though the idea for HWKR—and probably the coolest element of the whole concept too—was to create a quick tenancy program. To keep the excitement and the flavours flowing, HWKR will host a selection of four local and internationally renowned and up and coming Asian-inspired restaurateurs for just three months at a time.

The brief for Craig Tan Architects was to create a 200-seat venue that would reference real hawker markets – packed with energy and vibrancy and discovery. “By aspiring to establish an urban and communal atmosphere, our design for HWKR aims to offer an intimate and social dining experience that contributes back to the life and vitality of the city.”

To house revolving tenants, they created three distinct pavilions spread over three split levels. The first and second pavilions house the four tenant kiosks – currently this includes two Master Chef winners (Reynold Poernomo’s Koi Desert Bar and Diana Chan’s Chanteen), the Australian debut of Hong Kong’s Bread and Beast, and Balinese-inspired food from Khao by Rice Paper Scissors.

Inside, the feel is 21st-century pop culture. The first space features a statement brick-clad bar, stepped bleacher seating, and floating Japanese-style lanterns. Lettered signage throughout like the HWKR tagline ‘CTRL + ALT + YUM’ and ‘Don’t get hangry’, as well as neons, emojis, specially commissioned sculptures, and lucky waving cats, trinkets, and other ornaments bring the traditional hawker concept forward in time into the internet era. Craig Tan has also installed the tech to match: the venue uses an app that allows customers to order meals and drinks without the need for cash/card payment.


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[Images courtesy of Craig Tan Architects. Photography by Jaime Diaz-Berrio.]


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