Plenty to drink in with Richmond pub makeover
An old hotel has been given a quirky revamp, says Stephen Crafti.
THE Bridge Hotel in Richmond was previously a typical gaming hotel, fairly soulless.
Refurbished in the '90s, the two-storey, Victorian-style pub was simply a series of bland spaces with no external areas. However, the owners of the recently transformed hotel wanted to create a drawcard destination, for locals and those travelling from further afield.
"Our clients were probably over- ambitious to start with. The initial scheme was to completely gut the building, leaving only the original Victorian facade," says architect Justin Northrop, a director of Techne Architects.
When the budget was revisited, it was decided to incorporate as much of the building's existing fabric as possible.
One of the main requirements was an outdoor garden or courtyard. As a result, the architects chose to remove the roof from the single-storey building in the centre of the development. And rather than create the typical beer garden, Techne Architects created a cobbled lane. Complete with "shop fronts" and signage, this lane provides an escape from Bridge Road. The hoarding at the end of the lane also acts as a noise barrier. "We wanted to create a variety of experiences, with intricate and layered spaces," Northrop says.
Among the recycled facades fronting the lane is an outdoor contemporary fireplace, clad in glazed bricks. "We didn't want to create a pastiche-style movie set. But you get a sense of walking down one of Melbourne's laneways," Northrop says.
There are several different bar styles. The Havana bar, for example, includes a feature wall of recycled timber shutters and a bar front studded with cast-iron fireplace surrounds. The architects collaborated with Alleycat Creative, with 10 street artists making their mark on interior walls.
"There's quite a lot going on here. The owners also brought objects and artefacts into the mix," says Northrop, who says it's advisable not to be too precious in developing the combination. "It's supposed to be eclectic," he adds.
The diner, in the adjacent bar, has an American flavour. As well as a padded bar, there's a 1930s pressed-metal ceiling and white wall tiles, like those you would find in a New York subway. "We wanted to trigger people's memories. Some of the finishes you would find in a typical inner-city hotel," Northrop says.
The Loading Bay, at the rear of the hotel, designed for intimate gatherings, sets up another experience. Featuring a painted garage door and late 1960s chandelier, it's a hybrid between grunge and glamour.
The Bistro, on the western side of the lane, caters for more formal gatherings although it's far from formal. With taxidermy birds appearing to escape from their wire cage, patrons may find one eye on the menu, the other on the birds.
To create an outdoor feel, Techne Architects also included a Wintergarden, complete with suspended watering cans and plants. "It's become one of the most desirable areas in which to sit," says Northrop, pointing out the northern light and foot traffic.
Themes continue on the first level, with everything from a bar with the ambience of a photo studio, to the Loft. The Loft, featuring a stencil of Keith Richards could equally be seen as the musicians' digs.