It may not look like much now, but a trio of former Melburnians hopes to turn a vacant car park at the back of a dingy Wollongong alley into a bustling outdoor drinking hole befitting the laneway bars of their home town.
Brother and sister team Ane and Niels Glahn-Bertelsen, along with their business partner, Alex Hooke, have revealed plans to establish a bar made from recycled shipping containers at the back of Market Street and Keira Lane.
Their development application was submitted last month to Wollongong City Council by Architects Edmiston Jones under the trio's business name Sifters Events.
If approved, two refurbished containers will be lifted into the car park behind the vacant office at 82 Market Street to form a bar and toilet block.
The rest of the bar would be set up outdoors, kitted out with chairs, tables and food vans to create a "cool urban space with plenty of greenery and cosy nooks".
The bar is proposed to open between 6am and 10.30pm from Sunday to Tuesday, and from 6am to midnight the rest of the week.
It would be able to cater for 300 people, according to development plans, but capacity would be limited to 150. Live music is planned on several nights throughout the week.
In recent times, shipping containers have been used for interactive art exhibitions, temporary stores, hotel rooms and edgy bars in cities around the world.
In Melbourne, Section 8 Container Bar has been operating since 2006, while in Canberra, a transportable shipping container bar has been moving around the capital to enliven different precincts since early this year.
The trio's idea to establish something similar in Wollongong has been in the works for years, after Mr Glahn-Bertelsen moved to the city to study geology and fell in love with the coastal lifestyle.
Realising there was a gap in Wollongong's nightlife, he urged his school friend, Mr Hooke, and sister to join him and together they began crafting their plan to open a bar.
"We started talking about it seriously before Alex and I moved up about two years ago," Ms Glahn-Bertelsen said.
"We were initially going to deck out a venue, but we couldn't really get it up to the standard needed with the money we had, so we decided to do it ourselves.
"Shipping containers come fully compliant, they're ours to own and they're an asset that you can pick up and move wherever you want - so we just needed a car park to put them on."
She said the Market Street car park, behind the Hotel Illawarra, was ideal because it was sheltered and removed from residential buildings.
While the development application has pitched the bar as a "pop-up", Ms Glahn-Bertelsen said the group planned to stick around for a long time.
'We're planning to be there for a few years, definitely, if it all goes well but the beauty of the shipping containers is that we can pick them up and move if we need to," she said.
"We definitely want it to be a community space that changes."