Design Brief – Blog Task #3


Although the space selected for this task is not one that is visited every day, it is a regular feature of my week. The coffee shop is a popular shop in a small beachside town south of Adelaide. In the summer months the district comes alive with tourists; some from the Adelaide region, but many from all over the world. The town is known for its quaintness, beautiful swimming and surfing beaches, abundance of holiday homes, bakery and cafe’/coffee shops. This coffee shop was established at least 5 years ago and has a number of regular local and tourist clientele. It’s popularity has meant it can be difficult to access a table at times, but a takeaway coffee service can alleviate the problem.

The main cafe’ area of the shop is approximately 7 x 10m, with a 2 x 7m verandah attached to one side and a 3 x 10m uncovered deck at the front of the store. Both the verandah and deck have tables and chairs, though customers need to enter the shop to access the verandah area.



Google Maps Street view of Cafe'.jpg

Retrieved from,138.681111,3a,75y,152.22h,83.26t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sGkpMYZDG5CqBnSg3X41qPA!2e0!6m1!1e1    13th August 2014



Knowing that the location of the coffee shop was not purpose built for the cafe’, it is obvious that the coffee shop has had to design the floor area to suit the constraints of the building. The previous staff/store area (out of sight to coffee shop users) are near the counter area has now become the kitchen, and the old counter has been re-purposed for greeting customers and taking orders. The coffee shop has made a point of re-purposing furniture and decorative items. In doing so they have been able to present a cosy environment. Large windows and north facing aspect provides plenty of light, while verandah roofing reduces the hot summer sun heating the shop.

The furniture in the shop is generally close but not uncomfortably. Access is reasonable for most customers, though can be difficult when all tables are full. The staff seem to cope reasonably well with the flow through the space to serve customers. The counter area is generally kept efficiently clear of people waiting to place orders and the proximity of the front door near the counter means that an incoming customers can quickly assess if they will be able to locate a seat inside.

The issue of focus for this task is that the size and location of the door at the front can cause an issue for the staff as they take orders outside to a few tables on the front deck. With the door being situated close the customer ordering area, opening into the customer standing area, having a reasonable weight and resistance, along with having a handle that is difficult to use if both hands are full, are obvious issues for waiting staff.

Floor plan :



Shop door and entrance making exit with food and drinks difficult.



Knowns knowns

   Entrance door opens into customers waiting at service counter.

   Entrance door is currently only access into and out of shop area.

Lever B50.gif

   Entrance door allows wheelchair access.

   Door   –  larger than standard

            –  heavy door

            –  double glazed wooden

            –  lever handle at waist height    


   Shop staff need to

            – balance coffee on one arm to open door

            – or use elbow or arm holding lesser amount of load to open door

            – bend / lean down slightly to reach door handle when arms full

            – manoeuvre around waiting customers to access door

            – use this door for all customers using the tables on the deck area

   Shop front entirely large glass panels with wooden frames

   Door is pinned open during ‘fine’ weather days.

   Several ‘dropped items’ and near misses over the past six months – no staff or customer injury (Staff interview 11 Aug 2014)

   One written customer complaint regarding door in past 12 months (Staff interview 11 Aug 2014)

   Two verbal complaints regarding door in past twelve months. (Staff interview 11 Aug 2014)

   Changes to building structure require architect design and three quotes according to lease agreement. (Manager interview 11 Aug 2014)


Known unknown

   Permissions needed to change building structure

   Building codes for entrance door on coffee shops

   Satisfaction of staff in using the door whilst delivering orders.

   Actual number of ‘accidents,  spills or injuries’ resulting from staff using entrance during serving

   Outcome of risk assessment conducted by workplace (OHS Manual Handling Risk Management)



   1  Automated door using proximity sensor

   2  Door opens out onto decking (change door swing)

   3  Sliding door – automated

   4  Pin larger door open on busy days

   5  Pin larger door open and install lighter swing out protective door

   6  Change door handle

   7  Change door to lighter design

   8  Staff reduce load and only use one arm for carrying customer items

   9  Two staff deliver items to deck with one opening door

  10  Food and drink are no longer delivered to deck area

  11  Shift service counter to reduce congestion

  12  Simple catch mechanism on door with pull handle to open (no lever action)


The Brief

The coffee shop is is developing into an unique aspect of a small seaside town, but the welfare of the staff in integral for the continuing success of the business. How can the current customer service be maintained, yet simplify the movement of the staff?


Moving on?


Prototype 1.jpg

Prototype 1 –

A perspex(or glass) with wooden frame door (to fit into current door style) is added to front entrance. During working hours the main door is pinned open and this secondary door, which has a lighter frame, is used. The secondary door is pushed open from the inside, swinging out onto the deck.


Prototype 2.jpg    Pull handle.jpg    door catch.jpg

Prototype 2 – Pull Handle Ball door catch

Replace lever handle with pull handle and install ball catch mechanism to keep door closed.  



Work Cover Corporation (2000) Managing Occupational Health and Safety in the Hospitality Industry Retreived from



Credit to Jim and Lisa for helping with feed back during Design Brief drafting. Thank you.

4 thoughts on “Design Brief – Blog Task #3

  1. brownngaire

    It is always interesting when you see a cafe that is in a building that has not been previously used for food service. I think it is something that is overlooked by owners when deciding what building they can use for their premises.

  2. plee

    Rosie, you have captured the problem – seems like the employees have become used to the challenge of food service in their space? Are you intending to make this design brief available to the owner/manager – you have given him/her an excellent start to solving the design challenge. If they act on it, your regular coffees will be more relaxing, rather than waiting for an accident to happen 🙁

  3. Sharon Hanson

    Hi Rosie
    You sound like you have fully investigated the problems of this area. It is always hard when businesses are trying hard to get as many customers in as possible for a space that was not originally designed for it. Have your suggestions been made to the owners? What did they think?

  4. Yvette

    Hi Rosie,
    I had a very similar cafe/bakery that I based my design brief on. As part of our group brainstorming Liz Crowder cdiscovered this interesting research about the entering and exiting of buildings It gave me more depth to the problems I was looking at with access and egress.
    I really liked hot your worked through your design problem and came up with different prototyping that could be utilized to source a solution to this problem.
    Have you mentioed this to the cafe that you have looked at?


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