Contract - Prahran Hotel

design - features - hospitality design



Prahran Hotel

19 September, 2013

-By Adam Mornement. Photography by Peter Clarke


The revamped Prahran Hotel in Melbourne, Australia, is more than meets the eye. First, it is not a hotel, at least not the type with rooms for rent; in Australian lingo, a hotel is a pub. And then there is its eye-catching rear facade, punctuated by stacks of circles, which are actually concrete drainage pipes. Instead of transporting liquids, the pipes contain intimate seating areas that are visible from the street
and transform an otherwise inconspicuous suburban pub into one of the most talked-about venues in the city.

Occupiable pipes provide intimate seating
The project, which involved the renovation of a 1940s building and a new three-story, nearly 6,000-square-foot addition, is the fifth pub collaboration between developer Sand Hill Road (SHR) and local firm Techne Architects. “It wasn’t that great of a joint when we bought it,” says Matt Mullins, a co-owner of SHR. “But we could sense potential.”

While the original Art Deco–style building had good bones and just needed some minor renovations, the real challenge of the project involved reimagining a 1970s single-story addition at its rear. The addition was poorly proportioned and inwardly focused, and because SHR wanted the pub’s interior to have a stronger connection with the street, the design team called for a new, dramatic addition replacing the rear structure.
 
“The design of the new addition was guided by the Art Deco exterior of the original hotel,” says Justin Northrop, project designer and Techne director. “Of the patterns we explored, a circular motif became dominant.” That conceptual design led to the idea of implementing the concrete drainage pipes. The pipes lend depth to the facade, have a sculptural quality, and also suggest a stack of kegs, hinting at the festivities within.
 
Seventeen steel-reinforced concrete pipes, which range from seven to seven-and-half feet in diameter, are stacked in four vertical rows—rising the equivalent of three stories—from street level to above the parapet line. Each row is offset from the one beneath to create a staggered pattern. Most of the lower two levels of pipes are occupiable—the ground floor pipes are nearly seven feet deep and accommodate groups of six people, and the more shallow second row pipes, which measure two-and-a-half-feet deep, provide intimate spaces for two people—with bench seating upholstered in brown tufted leather and simple, fixed wood tables. Save for a few pipes that serve as planters, most of the lower two levels of pipes are lined with stained gum wood slats, which add visual warmth, and caged light fixtures maintain the industrial aesthetic.

Raw materials with accents of green
The design of the Prahran’s interior is focused on drawing the streetscape inward. Its focal point is a three-story, steel-framed, glazed courtyard with a tree at its center and foliage cascading from porthole windows and niches. Greenery softens the otherwise raw material palette, including the unpainted concrete pipes, a corrugated precast concrete wall, exposed steel frames, and gray-toned ceramic tile floors that extend from the pub’s interior to the courtyard.
 
Patrons of the Prahran, which can accommodate about 420 people, can choose from a variety of seating experiences that range from intimate to more social. Options include the booths within the concrete pipes that form the facade, the main bar made from salvaged pipes, more traditional bar-height seating options and booths inside the structure, as well as wire-framed chairs and tables within the courtyard. A coveted 10–person booth is situated within a half culvert pipe that, while appearing to float in the space, is actually supported by slender steel posts painted black. Wherever patrons choose to sit, they can enjoy the openness and voyeuristic qualities of the space, its multiple levels connected only by slender walkways and stairs.

Though certainly not typical of Melbourne pubs, the Prahran Hotel is one of the most photographed, and recently served as the backdrop to a car advertisement. “The attention has really taken us by surprise,” Mullins says, “but buildings aren’t designed to only be photographed—they’re designed to be occupied and enjoyed, and that’s what will keep people coming back.” Surely many of the Prahran’s patrons are up for another round.

Prahran Hotel

  • Designer: Techne Architects
  • Client: Sand Hill Road
  • Where: Melbourne, Australia
  • What: 5,920 total square feet on three floors
  • Cost/sf: Withheld at client’s request

Key Design Highlights

  • Concrete drainage pipes create a dramatic facade and carve out unique seating areas for small groups of patrons.
  • Greenery offsets the otherwise  industrial material palette of concrete, wood, and metal.
  • An open interior, with varying levels connected by stairs and walkways, promotes friendly voyeurism.
  • Patrons can choose from several seating experiences that range from intimate to more communal.




Prahran Hotel

19 September, 2013


The revamped Prahran Hotel in Melbourne, Australia, is more than meets the eye. First, it is not a hotel, at least not the type with rooms for rent; in Australian lingo, a hotel is a pub. And then there is its eye-catching rear facade, punctuated by stacks of circles, which are actually concrete drainage pipes. Instead of transporting liquids, the pipes contain intimate seating areas that are visible from the street
and transform an otherwise inconspicuous suburban pub into one of the most talked-about venues in the city.

Occupiable pipes provide intimate seating
The project, which involved the renovation of a 1940s building and a new three-story, nearly 6,000-square-foot addition, is the fifth pub collaboration between developer Sand Hill Road (SHR) and local firm Techne Architects. “It wasn’t that great of a joint when we bought it,” says Matt Mullins, a co-owner of SHR. “But we could sense potential.”

While the original Art Deco–style building had good bones and just needed some minor renovations, the real challenge of the project involved reimagining a 1970s single-story addition at its rear. The addition was poorly proportioned and inwardly focused, and because SHR wanted the pub’s interior to have a stronger connection with the street, the design team called for a new, dramatic addition replacing the rear structure.
 
“The design of the new addition was guided by the Art Deco exterior of the original hotel,” says Justin Northrop, project designer and Techne director. “Of the patterns we explored, a circular motif became dominant.” That conceptual design led to the idea of implementing the concrete drainage pipes. The pipes lend depth to the facade, have a sculptural quality, and also suggest a stack of kegs, hinting at the festivities within.
 
Seventeen steel-reinforced concrete pipes, which range from seven to seven-and-half feet in diameter, are stacked in four vertical rows—rising the equivalent of three stories—from street level to above the parapet line. Each row is offset from the one beneath to create a staggered pattern. Most of the lower two levels of pipes are occupiable—the ground floor pipes are nearly seven feet deep and accommodate groups of six people, and the more shallow second row pipes, which measure two-and-a-half-feet deep, provide intimate spaces for two people—with bench seating upholstered in brown tufted leather and simple, fixed wood tables. Save for a few pipes that serve as planters, most of the lower two levels of pipes are lined with stained gum wood slats, which add visual warmth, and caged light fixtures maintain the industrial aesthetic.

Raw materials with accents of green
The design of the Prahran’s interior is focused on drawing the streetscape inward. Its focal point is a three-story, steel-framed, glazed courtyard with a tree at its center and foliage cascading from porthole windows and niches. Greenery softens the otherwise raw material palette, including the unpainted concrete pipes, a corrugated precast concrete wall, exposed steel frames, and gray-toned ceramic tile floors that extend from the pub’s interior to the courtyard.
 
Patrons of the Prahran, which can accommodate about 420 people, can choose from a variety of seating experiences that range from intimate to more social. Options include the booths within the concrete pipes that form the facade, the main bar made from salvaged pipes, more traditional bar-height seating options and booths inside the structure, as well as wire-framed chairs and tables within the courtyard. A coveted 10–person booth is situated within a half culvert pipe that, while appearing to float in the space, is actually supported by slender steel posts painted black. Wherever patrons choose to sit, they can enjoy the openness and voyeuristic qualities of the space, its multiple levels connected only by slender walkways and stairs.

Though certainly not typical of Melbourne pubs, the Prahran Hotel is one of the most photographed, and recently served as the backdrop to a car advertisement. “The attention has really taken us by surprise,” Mullins says, “but buildings aren’t designed to only be photographed—they’re designed to be occupied and enjoyed, and that’s what will keep people coming back.” Surely many of the Prahran’s patrons are up for another round.

Prahran Hotel

  • Designer: Techne Architects
  • Client: Sand Hill Road
  • Where: Melbourne, Australia
  • What: 5,920 total square feet on three floors
  • Cost/sf: Withheld at client’s request

Key Design Highlights

  • Concrete drainage pipes create a dramatic facade and carve out unique seating areas for small groups of patrons.
  • Greenery offsets the otherwise  industrial material palette of concrete, wood, and metal.
  • An open interior, with varying levels connected by stairs and walkways, promotes friendly voyeurism.
  • Patrons can choose from several seating experiences that range from intimate to more communal.

 


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