A.Baker / Design Office

A.Baker is a bakery, bar, cafe and restaurant occupying the ground floor and basement of Canberra’s New Acton Pavilion. Rising from the charred shell of the burnt-out New Acton Pavilion it sits as a confident and contemporary intervention to the texture and layers of the original building.


A.Baker sits at the heart of Canberra’s New Acton precinct.

The client, A.Baker, commissioned an all-encompassing bakery, bar, and culinary destination to provide an animated link across the precinct to the new Nishi building.


The New Acton Pavilion, built in 1927, was ravaged by fire in 2011. A.Baker now occupies the charred shell of the ground floor and extends into a newly formed basement which also provides shared amenities for the rest of the building and adjacent tenancies. Central to the connection of the two spaces is a new stair, visually and physically connecting to the A.Baker Speakeasy below.

On the ground floor, the history etched into the charred walls has been retained and embraced providing a textured and layered backdrop against the new palette of concrete, bluestone, galvanised steel and leather.

The central open kitchen flanks the staircase providing controlled glimpses down to the A.Baker Speakeasy. The bar-room undercroft is anchored by a monolithic sculptural rolled steel bar and canopy, suspended in tension and lined in red Alicante marble. Cast-concrete seats and leather upholstery line the perimeter to provide an intimate venue with glimpses through into the working bakery next door and dining room above.

The design for A.Baker creates an environment which brings together three distinct elements – a bar, a bakery and a restaurant. Collectively, the soft delineation of the zoning and consistency in palette aim to retain a singular identity, whilst variation in seating type, lighting and spatial formality give each part their own personality traits providing the animation and variation required to create a vibrant all-day venue.

Against the backdrop of the burnt-out shell of the heritage-listed building the design of A.Baker called for a confident, yet carefully measured balance of materials and mass aiming to create an intervention where old and new connect and co-exist without obvious delineation.

The new staircase provided a further dimension to the brief. In addition to linking A.Baker, the stairway needed to provide common access to the basement amenities and secondary egress from below. This gave a dual aspect to the brief for the stair, needing it to be visually integral and open to A.Baker yet able to provide tenancy security and used independently when A.Baker was not open. A combination of glazed and perforated panels combined with sliding and hinged elements collectively aim to combine a visual simplicity with operational complexity.