Melbourne architect Giles Freeman brings Bavaria to the banks of the Yarra river with the sprawling Munich Brauhaus. By Kerryn Ramsey
The old custom’s dock shed was an exceptionally large building. “It was a 70-metre-by-15-metre space, completely bare and with no columns,” recalls architect Giles Freeman of Techne Architecture + Interior Design.
Any development had to accommodate the heritage order on the exterior facade facing the river. “Development was actively encouraged,” says Freeman, “but it had to respect the eave and roof height. There’s a row of clerestory windows along the top that had to be maintained and there could be no permanent structures extending out from the building.”
While the main beer hall is at the heart of Munich Brauhaus, which is owned by Urban Purveyor Group, it also contains an outside beer garden, two bars and a private function room. “The venue can accommodate about 900 patrons,” says Freeman. “The beer hall lies in the middle and is the main focus of the business. There are families of tables spread throughout the space and staff just flow between them.”
The beer hall has the Jager Bar at one end, where guests are welcomed and seated. “This bar is more for a quick drink. so if patrons intend to stay for longer, they’re taken through to the beer hall. The function areas work really well and are a little isolated from the main space. However, they’re not cut off completely because the venue is trading on the noise and vibe of a beer hall.”
The kitchen is centrally located and has service to the street, and into a cafe and bakery where they produce all their own baked goods. Even though it meant reinforcing the walls, Freeman designed the kitchen to be as open as possible, giving patrons a dramatic view as they walk past.
A common motif running through the Brauhaus is the American oak. Freeman says,“We used a joinery company called UTJ Interiors, who were excellent. We needed the columns to be read as solid and square, and they were able to reflect that. The client was very impressed with the Austrian après-ski hall feel of the interior. It’s very refined, clean and a little geometric but there are still some wonderful kitsch elements—the entire Jager Bar wall is covered in log panelling with a full-sized deer standing on the wall.”
The build only took three months and the venue opened in 2014.
“Munich Brauhaus has been a great success due, in part, to their canny marketing,” says Freeman. “They get a lot of large groups and a significant proportion of their clientele are repeat customers. Whenever you see their advertising, you immediately feel like a stein and a pork knuckle!”