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It’s a no-brainer that among the shortlist in the hospitality section of the 2017 Australian Interior Design Awards you’ll find a swag of hip cafes, funky bistros, cool wine bars and sophisticated restaurants. Unexpected, however, is the inclusion of a reimagined rail carriage. Yes, you read right: a railway carriage.
Not surprisingly, the carriage is located in no ordinary train. We’re talking Great Southern Rail’s iconic Ghan whose Platinum Club is an exclusive lounge/dining space for Platinum Service guests.
It’s timely that this Australian transcontinental railway carriage be treated to a new lease of life given the luxe rail tourism on offer overseas such as Japan’s exquisite Shik-shima Train Suite and the Seven Stars Cruise Train; Scotland’s mahogany-panelled Belmond Royal Scotsman and the perennially romantic, Art Deco, Orient Express.
The renovated carriage is located in no ordinary train. We’re talking Great Southern Rail’s iconic Ghan. Photo: Shannon McGrath
For the Great Southern Rail project, architecture firm Woods Bagot was commissioned to upgrade the Platinum Club, not only in the Ghan which travels Adelaide to Darwin, but also the Club in the Indian Pacific which journeys Perth-Adelaide-Sydney. Both trains have been undergoing stages of refurbishment over the past 10 years.
But renewing an ageing rail carriage is no mean feat. “There are strict construction requirements due to the flexing and movement of the carriage which determined the materials and finishes scheme,” says Keith Dougal, Woods Bagot Senior Associate.
The Great Southern Rail carriage is an exclusive lounge and dining space. Photo: Shannon McGrath
In a rare approach, one carriage was built as a working prototype, allowing the design team an opportunity to fine-tune elements such as ergonomics, functional performance and material detailing.
The result? A tailored space sporting deep-buttoned leather banquettes; a self-service bar with opulent brass detailing; Atlantic Stone quartzite lounge table-tops with polished brass trim and leather-topped dining tables complemented by moss green upholstered chairs. There’s bespoke carpet and window coverings incorporating the repolished original brass trims and hardware paired with sheer curtains housed within a feature lighting pelmet.
Both the Ghan and the Indian Pacific trains have been undergoing stages of refurbishment over the past 10 years. Photo: Shannon McGrath
“This restrained palette is linked to the landscape the train explores. The view and colours of the countryside are considered as an ever-changing extension of the material selection,” Dougal says adding that the design allows the vistas of the Australian outback to be the hero during the day, while for the evening the mood changes. “The softness of the internal spaces allows the carriage to be imbued with a sense of luxury and glamour.”
The carriage sports deep-buttoned leather banquettes. Photo: Shannon McGrath
According to Jacinta Reedy, event manager of the Awards since their establishment 14 years ago, many extraordinary and unusual projects have been recognised over the program’s history. “This year is no exception, particularly in the Hospitality category, which received record entries and boasts a shortlist of 41 projects. Besides the railway carriage there’s a vintage Airstream caravan atop a CBD carpark and, not one, but two highly theatrical yoga studios,” she says.
However, unlike some of the groovier hospitality designs, the refined Platinum Club carriage is intended to stick around and grow old gracefully.
The restrained palette is linked to the landscape the train explores. Photo: Shannon McGrath
And, just in case you’re wondering, fares for Platinum Cabin and Service travel don’t come cheap (prices start at $3149 pp), however all wine and food – inspired by the regions through which the train travels – is inclusive and prepared fresh by onboard chefs. Feasting on Grilled Murray Valley Corowa pork loin featuring Forage and Feast beetroot relish with zucchini and polenta cake, broccolini and red wine jus followed by baked rhubarb parfait served with Glen Ewin fig, Kangaroo Island honey and ricotta ice cream and praline, the carriage’s menu is right on track.
This article first appeared on www.domain.com.au
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