Latin for ‘garden’, Seven Seeds’ new temporary cafe Hortus is bringing a breath of fresh air and greenery to Docklands. The cafe is a collaboration between the Carlton coffee mecca and art/architecture studio Utopian Folk. It takes the form of a stand-alone greenhouse that features a garden of native and edible plants from local artist Lauren Berkowitz and has about 50 seats, with indoor and outdoor seating.
"It's a huge change from Carlton," Seven Seeds co-owner Bridget Amor says. "Hopefully we bring something to the Docklands, and the residents and corporates both enjoy it and use it." Seven Seeds' head barista Jake Sullivan has been enlisted to run the new cafe, which will focus primarily on coffee in the absence of a hot kitchen. "We hope to do some experimental stuff, change some machinery around a bit," Amor says. Coffee will consist, of course, of the Seven Seeds espresso blend, alongside a rotating single-origin coffee. There will also be a single-origin batch brew ready to go for those who want their coffee extra quick. Food comes courtesy of "like-minded businesses" such as Fitzroy's Rustica bakery and pastry wunderkind Matt Forbes, which delivers sandwiches and sweets daily.
The project began some two years ago, when Utopian Folk won a Places Victoria tender to develop the empty space north of Etihad Stadium, "just to kind of humanise the area," Berkowitz says. Utopian Folk approached Seven Seeds and Berkowitz, and both were enthusiastic. "The Docklands is kind of crying out for places with a bit of personality," Berkowitz says. Her garden, titled Still Life, hopes to remedy this with lush plants recycled from displays at Fed Square and the NGV's recently finished Melbourne Now exhibition.
"The work is very much an evolution of the piece I had at Melbourne Now," Berkowitz says, "but on a larger and more ambitious scale." The garden also seeks to highlight the edible and medicinal properties of native plants such as sea celery, Warrigal greens and lemon myrtle. Visitors will have to wait until April 7 for the full horticultural experience, when the final plants are shipped from the NGV and added to the greenhouse. Luckily there’s plenty of time to enjoy this pop-up, with its run slated for 18 months.
131–141 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands
Open daily (official trading hours not yet confirmed)