The Keel and Daintree Bar

North by North

The Keel and Daintree Bar, brought to life by North by North, exemplify a commitment to sustainability, social responsibility, and heritage preservation within the historic confines of The Rocks. Housed in a heritage-listed building, the bars endeavour to offer a unique drinking experience, while contributing to environmental conservation.

A notable feature of this project is the profound social sustainability agenda. Half of the bars’ profits are dedicated to an initiative that plants trees across Australia and supports the Traditional Owners of the lowland Daintree. A striking mural by Felix Saw tracks the progress, with panels coloured and finished for every 100,000 trees planted. This commitment to reforestation is not only admirable but also visually represented in the bar’s design.

Both The Keel and Daintree Bar adopt a circular approach to their fitouts, minimising waste and maximising reuse. These efforts align with the heritage preservation requirements of the building. Intimate and simple in design, The Keel Bar pays homage to its maritime history with lush booths, while the almost hidden Daintree Bar is discreetly accessed via stairs. Remarkably, no fixings were made to the heritage building’s walls or floors, demonstrating a sensitive approach towards the historic structure.

Sustainability measures extend to the materials used in the fitout, with natural materials and low VOC paints contributing to a healthier indoor environment. Recycled and repurposed materials abound, from discarded mango tree cuts used for tables to reimagined counter spaces that reduce site waste. Local suppliers provide food and drinks, while the cocktail list incorporates native ingredients grown on-site.

Laidre, the client and builder, sets a precedent for sustainable and socially conscious construction practices. Their ethos prioritises eco-friendly methods and community well-being, making them a key partner in the success of this project.

Photography by Steve Woodburn