The Prahran Hotel is a substantial two storey corner pub with a striking streamlined art deco facade. The rear of the venue had a poorly proportioned, internalised single storey extension and the clients brief for the project called to demolish and replace it with a dramatic double height space with a central courtyard.
The use of large stacked concrete pipes for the street facade of the addition struck a chord for multiple reasons: they have a depth and can be interactive, they have a dramatic, sculptural quality, they reference existing internal circular motifs and they suggest stacked kegs or barrels.
A steel glazed courtyard cuts through the interior, connecting both levels and allowing ample natural light to flood the space. A floating booth made of half pipes is supported on steel posts and accessed via a steel gantry that traverses the room. Much of the steel structure is exposed and the concrete finish of the pipes and precast form the base of the interior palette of materials, contrasting this is the warmth of recycled spotted gum and leather upholstery and the freshness of the planting that is woven throughout the interior.
Whilst the space has the appeal of some spatial drama, the design’s success will be measured by the quality of the ambience and intimacy of the interior. Much effort was made to ensure that patrons have a variety of ways of gathering: private spaces contrast more social areas, there are places for couples and larger groups, and the circulation loops through both levels which encourages a voyeuristic procession through the old and new areas of the pub.
Commissioned by Techne Architects, Peter Clarke was asked to document the recently completed Prahran Hotel refurbishment. In close collaboration, Peter applied a strong graphic style to ensure the buildings character and form, as well as it’s tactile materials, were brought to the fore of each image.
Techne Architects presented plenty of challenges to Parkhill Freeman designing the structure for the Prahran Hotel renovations. Very limited site access controlled the design requiring erection from the rear of the extension to the street. An internal courtyard constructed from precast concrete panels and glass required the lateral restraint to the panels to be hidden above the adjoining roof adopting a service walkway to satisfy the two functions. Half pipes providing seating booths at the first floor level were supported using small I beams that formed dual height portal frames with the lower beams providing support to the tables under the pipes.
An analogy to a stack of oranges was used to conceive the lateral restraint systems required to the concrete pipes facing the street. High contact pressures and non-uniform contact between pipes resulted in standard water pipes being unsuitable requiring an increase in thickness with significant increases in reinforcement. Connections to the pipes was solved by using cast in plates to the inside face of the walls allowing for slight misalignments between pipes due to rotations and unevenness between the pipes was solved using a compressible neoprene strip. Earthquake forces were a significant load case due to the weight of the pipes and contents with a small steel pipe tension tie at each vertical pipe connection transferring the forces between dual height portal frames hidden behind the façade. The portal frames were tied back to the masonry façade of the original hotel with part concrete encasement around the pipes being used to transfer the horizontal loads to the foundations.Where pipes are not supported by the pipes under, either a curved beam portal frame or cantilevered beams located inside the concrete pipes tied to precast concrete panels behind provide the support. Detailing the structure to be hidden on the street façade whilsthaving a minimal visual impact on the Architecture when viewed from the inside, presented the largest challenge.
The end result has achieved the architectural brief to create a simple looking building with the structure and architecture integrated.