Custom concrete water pipes create dynamic facade and cosy booths at Melbourne pub
If you’re a Melbourne resident you’ll almost certainly have heard of the new addition to the Prahran Hotel. A two-storey extension to this boutique hotel with a central leafy courtyard, the defining aspect to this recently-opened pub is a series of concrete water pipes which arc across the façade, echoing the Art Deco motifs found in the original hotel building.
Designed by local studio Techne Architects, the form incorporates 17.5 water pipes ranging in weight from 2.5 to 7.4 tonnes each. Working with Parkhill Freeman, NSP Geotechnics Pty Ltd and BRT Consulting Engineers, the architects designed a dynamic and characterful façade for this new watering hole that feeds into the interior space, forming a series of cosy seating booths and entertainment spaces. It took 9 riggers 11 days to install the 17.5 custom-made pipes as you can see from this short video.
The result is a collection of beautiful circular window seats with views across the streetscape and wider Melbourne skyline. Each upholstered leather booth seats 2, 6 or 12 people, cradled in a cosy concrete pipe lined with recycled spotted gum slats, some of which also benefit from views into a central courtyard. This courtyard sports a corrugated concrete wall, causal seating and a smattering of foliage to bring the space to life.
From an external viewpoint, the water pipes give the effect of stacked barrels, a reference to the internal workings of the quirky space, but inside, Techne Architects have found a novel way of creating an intimate dining experience. The bottom half of a concrete water pipe has been raised on steel posts to create a private dining room for 12 VIP guests, accessed by a steel gantry.
Architect Justin Northrop told design blog The Cool Hunter: “Inside you are climbing over the pipes, sitting in them, or on them at various levels. They have a lasting impact on the space. We were looking for a sense of drama and theatricality. The voyeuristic nature of these pubs is very important, the way the space is connected visually.”
The design is not all about aesthetics. The flexible arrangement within can be easily transformed, removing the tables and chairs to form an impromptu dance floor for larger events or casual parties. A raw, industrial feel has been maintained throughout, with exposed concrete and steel, wide glass window panes for excess daylighting, and leather and metal furnishings providing the ‘lasting impact’ the architects desired with the durability necessary for a lively public house.