Two months ago I wrote about British restaurateur Arthur Potts Dawson and his closed loop restaurant concepts and social enterprise food cooperatives here. When I came across the Greenhouse I found the perfect follow up. One would not be amiss to call the Australia based designer/builder/environmentalist Joost Bakker “green-blooded”. His Dutch flower growing heritage helped forge a lifelong passion with growing things and plant inspired structures, such as greenhouses and conservatories. His greenery walls invoke the power of nature creeping back into urban environments, making them simultaneously comforting and edgy.
Like the plants that make up so much of their design, the innovative traveling cafes that began in Sydney (with a permanent space now in Perth and Melbourne) have grown beyond the national borders, opening in London and followed by stops in other European cities. The whole Greenhouse arrives in five 12 meter containers each one with a specific room.
The Greenhouse concept blends the ethos of art installation with sustainability, building from broken down shipping containers and packing crates, with all of its furniture, light fittings, glasses and even staff uniforms made from recycled and recyclable materials. The walls of the building are made of straw bales and steel is used extensively throughout the building as it is 100 per cent recyclable.
All ingredients are either grown on the roof top garden or locally sourced, arriving in bulk form in reusable containers. (That includes beer and wine, as well as grains and milk.) Grain is milled and butter is churned daily on site. There are no rubbish bins and all waste is composted. Even old oil from the deep fryers is turned into diesel to supply electricity, creating as much of a closed system as possible.
Bakker refers to the Greenhouse as a waste free restaurant, with menus that encourage diners to be more aware of the impact of food choices on the environment and with a design that demonstrates that the technology needed to live more sustainably is now readily available.
The specific pop up locations may only last for 1-2 months, but their success is far more than a flash in the pan, as the saying goes. Not only have they paved the way for permanent restaurants that will maintain or perhaps excel the levels of sustainability, they also have given thousands of diners significant food for thought.
Go to Sydney based food blog “Grab Your Fork” for fabulous on site photos.