Holcim’s Humes provides striking hospitality Down Under


The iconic Prahran Hotel, a corner pub located outside of Melbourne, Australia, was renovated last year to include an eye-catching art deco façade created from 17 oversized stacked concrete pipes. The 2.5- to 7.4-ton precast pipes were provided by Humes, a division of Holcim Austraila.

“When you attempt something as unusual as this, you look for other projects around the world that have done it before so you can learn engineering and construction techniques. We couldn’t find any so there was an added complexity in developing the construction methodology. This is all very worthwhile though as the pipe façade is really the defining feature of the pub,” stated Justin Northrop, Techné Architects director and project architect for the Prahran renovation.

The standard drainage pipes (2.25 meters in diameter) were individually prefabricated at the Humes’ Laverton plant with customized steel reinforcing and connection points. The pipes were transported to site by truck and craned into position in stages over a few days.

As the key feature of the revitalized 750-sq.-m pub, the façade is more than a wall—it contains booths that seat two, six or 12 people, and walkways that enable patrons to interact physically with the structure itself. Also, double glazed steel framed windows allow the inside of the venue to be easily observed from the street.

“The façade provided an opportunity for us to acknowledge the classic streamline features throughout the original pub but we were very conscious of not designing the pub around the façade. A pub’s success is determined by how it operates within, rather than how it looks on the outside,” noted Northrop.

The revitalization also included an outdoor courtyard adjacent to a 5-m long bar made from recycled colored steel pipes and collapsible tables that give way to a dance floor on weekends. The focal point of the atrium is a 5-m tall Jacaranda tree set against the backdrop of a 9-m tall precast wall with port holes and custom-design corrugation. Lush planter boxes are nestled in the circular portholes to create cascading foliage.