prahran hotel by techne architects

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Remember when I wrote this article? It made me realise that my design research would be much more fulfilling if it extended beyond the online realm. You may have noticed the slight shift on the blog lately. I'm aiming for more time in the real world and less in front of the screen. Good plan, right?

In line with the new regime for PFMM, over the weekend, I checked out the Prahran Hotel by Techne Architects. I have been lusting over the images for the last few months, so I've been hanging out to see it in the flesh. The concrete drum facade is the hero. It's composed of concrete drain pipes that straddle inside and out, housing seating booths internally.

The concrete pipe facade faces the side street rather than the main road. Contrary to what I was expecting, it sits quite politely at the rear rather than aggressively demanding attention on the main road.

Internally, it's a layered visual maze. There's a central concrete drum with seating suspended in the centre of the space. (Unfortunately I failed to photograph it with any degree of success but you can see images of it here.) The staircase also cuts between the concrete drums and the main courtyard space, resulting in quite secluded boot seating. With a series of visual obstructions occupying the space, you're left peering under, over and between objects to make sense of the volume of the space.  

Spatially, this place is magic and a delight to explore. Yet with the moments of sweet surprise came a slight tinge of disillusionment. I met my sister here on a Sunday afternoon and packed a book in case I got there early. Umm...this is not the type of place you take a book for a relaxed, quiet sip with friends. I had envisioned ambient tunes mixed with the sound of clinking glasses. Was it the leather upholstery that lead me astray?

It was loud and rowdy, with the footy playing on a giant TV screen and a band playing covers of The Fray. Wow. Totally not what I was expecting. 

Perhaps my reaction is a sign that I'm getting old.

[Photos by me]


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