Just like a crisp, golden pint of fine beer – traditional Bavarian bier hall architecture often mirrors the warm, honeyed tones of the popular beverage by using natural woods to create a feeling of cosiness and intimacy. Echoing this sentiment perfectly is the Hophaus Bier Bar on Melbourne’s popular Southgate promenade.
Designed by Maddison Architects, architect Drew Carling says traditional bier cafes were analysed to determine common material elements. This was then reinterpreted in form and function, as well as through the use of traditional materials during the Hophaus Bier Bar design stage. “We found materials such as terrazzo, timber, glazed brickwork, stone, fine steelwork and custom lighting elements conveyed a crafted and bespoke feel,” says Drew.
“Treating familiar elements with a contemporary slant and creating a simultaneously recognisable, yet new atmosphere, Hophaus looks to historic German architecture for inspiration,” says Drew. “Texture and warmth are created by using crafted and hand finished materials such as brick, steel, timber and stone throughout.”
Featuring Big River Group’s Armourpanel Blackbutt timber on the establishment walls and ceiling, the material choice was crucial to the overall bar look and chosen for its hardy nature. “The product is unique as a hardwood timber finish and can withstand considerable impact,” explains Drew.
The Armourpanel is thoroughly designed, tested and approved to withstand extreme heat and humidity, and to resist shrinkage. It’s this tolerance of changes in ambient temperature and its toughness that make it ideal for flooring, ceiling and wall lining in hard-wearing areas. “With functional durability and a visual integrity that is unlike other materials, Armourpanel Blackbutt was the ideal choice,” says Drew.
Also important to the project design was seeking environmentally friendly materials, “we are obligated to be aware of the environmental sustainability of the products we specify and Big River’s AFS certification ensures source material is from managed regrowth and plantation forests,” he says.
As a cosmopolitan reinvention of the great Bavarian Bier Halls dotted throughout Germany, the Hophaus Bier Bar project site needed to not only transform into a contemporary adaptation of the classic halls, but also needed to seamlessly tie into the waterfront location and city vibe of Melbourne’s Southbank.
“Hophaus evokes some of the design sensibilities and bold geometric forms that can be found in the important architectural legacy of art deco Melbourne,” explains Drew. “We were inspired by the substantial and expressive columns, fully integrated artwork, fixed mount lighting and bold use of form and colour as a palette of components able to be adapted to the design.”
Comprising of a large front bar, communal and booth seating, and a rear lounge bar area; Hophaus also includes a spacious dining area that faces a large kitchen servery. Making the space flexible and suitable for a variety of social occasions – from large groups to small intimate gatherings, sliding screens were installed. It’s this detail to design that allows a layering of uses to the large venue.
“Adaptable to patron numbers, the spaces and their relationship to one another required a crafted and considered approach,” explains Drew. “This is seen in plan and the undulating levels of soffits throughout. Zoning of services and lighting also attempted to enhance the sustainable approach to sizeable establishment”.
Attention to detail, traditional materials, warm and welcoming and a selection of fine beer – the Hophaus Bier Bar is indeed a little bit of Munich in Melbourne.