The ‘hole-in-the-wall’ coffee stop, by NOMA*

Sitting within a compact 11sqm footprint, Standby Espresso is an example of adaptive re-use of a small, underutilised space that engages with its local community.

Conceived as a blank box when closed and using client vandalism and graffiti concerns as a design generator, this takeaway coffee spot opens up to reveal a finely crafted interior when in operation.

Occupying a partly redundant services recess in the existing Alexander Building retail complex on the corner of Mount Lawley’s Walcott Street and Raglan Road, it sits away from the main Beaufort Street strip.

“I believe this isolated location offered an opportunity to generate a unique built outcome in order to attract customers to it, and in doing so provide the best chance of long term commercial success for the operator, Standby Espresso,” says NOMA* Director and Architect Simon Venturi.

A simple brief outlined the importance of maximising the limited internal space.

“I also believed it was important to find a balance between remaining sensitive to the existing complex while also establishing a tenancy with a unique character, which did challenge the initial brief to some extent,” Simon explains.

Selected to complement the existing complex’s colour scheme, the external cladding also provides the tenancy with a recognisable identity of its own.

A large north-facing folding window, bench counter, alfresco space in the shade of a mature tree, and a canopy of linked black aluminium trays create a relaxed and inviting vibe for passersby.

Local artist Daek William set to work on a piece that reflects the operator’s firefighter background, and one that captures visibility from cars on Walcott Street.

The success of the project is thanks to the collaboration between the property owner, business operator, consultants, contractors and the artist, each bringing enthusiasm, ideas and unique skills.

“The City of Vincent Planning, Building and Place departments were very helpful and supportive of the project in order to activate the location.”

NOMA* has recently completed a series of adaptive re-use projects transforming existing redundant or underutilised spaces and structures for new use. “We believe this is an important process in activating and enriching inner city urban environments.”


Architect – NOMA* – Simon Venturi Contractor (Building Shell) – Capella Constructions Fitout Contractor – Medalia Made Artwork – Daek William Structural Engineer – McDowall Affleck BCA Certification – CADD’s Compliance