A former Brunswick woolshed and a Fitzroy cafe and roastery beat entrants from 60 countries at the 2014 British Restaurant and Bar Design Awards in London.

Topping its field – which included fellow Melburnians Top Paddock – in the Best UK & International Café category was Industry Beans, the specialty roaster and cafe that set up shop in Rose Street last year. The international recognition is a huge coup for founding brothers Trevor and Steven Simmons, architect Matt Rawlins from Figureground Architecture and the Melbourne cafe scene in general.

“We started from scratch with a factory shell; it was a pretty challenging undertaking,” says Rawlins of Figureground.

“But I think people have really responded to the strong yet simple design. It’s playful and surprising.” The award is not surprising, given the spacious yet warm warehouse space and Rawlins’ thoughtfully designed courtyard, which allows for both sunlight and partial shade in summer, and shelter during winter.

Brunswick bar, music space and cultural hub Howler won Best Bar in the Pacific Region. Designed by Splinter Society Architecture, the newcomer was recognised for its transformation from wool-keep to urban wonderland which houses beer, live music, theatre, art, hawker food and film screenings. In just a year and a half, the colossal space has become a mainstay of the Melbourne scene, providing its growing number of devotees with two bar spaces plus a large outdoor area for drinking up and chowing down.

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