Women-run pub reclaims former strip club

The conversion of a sometime brothel and strip club into a women-owned brewery and venue that is transforming a downmarket corner of central Adelaide, took out South Australia's top award for commercial architecture on Thursday night.

Sparkke at the Whitmore by Troppo Architects also won a heritage architecture award for restoration of the historic pub thought to date from 1870 but which, once work began, unearthed a building structure dating from 1851 – just 15 years after colonial Adelaide's founding.

Sparkke at the Whitmore Troppo Architects

"They didn’t quite realise how old the original building fabric was," juror Kirsteen Mackay said.

"They uncovered lots of things as they started doing the demolition to start the build. They managed to expose things as they’ve gone."

Restoration of the building long known as the Whitmore Hotel at 317 Morphett Street incorporated many of the uncovered features, such as a previously unknown well – now covered with a porthole – and timber roof shingles into the venue with beer garden, rooftop to function rooms, bottle shop and restaurant.

"It was notorious for being somewhere where there were other services on offer," Ms Mackay said. "It was one of those pubs you didn’t take any notice of. It looked very uninviting."

The kitchen and micro brewery sit centrally in the light-filled pub, a social enterprise that is also helping bring new life to Whitmore Square – now also known as Iparrityi, after Kaurna woman Amelia Taylor – after years of being a place to avoid after dark due to large numbers of people with drug and alcohol problems.

"You can see something shifting in that western south-west corner of the city," Ms Mackay said.

The revitalised pub has a rooftop terrace that opens out over the square.

"You’re looking right across the tree canopy of the square. You can see the hills and beyond. It might be modest in scale, but it’s a fantastic outcome," juror Kirsteen Mackay.

"You’re looking right across the tree canopy of the square. You can see the hills and beyond. It might be modest in scale, but it’s a fantastic outcome," she said.

Other winning designs in the SA awards also reflected architecture that met the needs of the paying client and made their local environment better.

The 22-storey, mixed-use accommodation U City development, designed by Woods Bagot, won the City of Adelaide Prize and an award for Public Architecture. The building, developed by not-for-profit developer Uniting Communities, includes independent aged living with supported and short-term accommodation, and retail and community facilities.

But it also creates a new link between Franklin and Grote streets and activates the ground-level public realm by extending the existing Penaluna Lane through the redeveloped site.

The state's top award for new residential architecture went to Spinifex House, a small dwelling in western Adelaide's Henley Beach South that occupies a small block on a beach-facing road dominated by large, bulky beach houses.

The Khab Architects-designed home rises up on legs from the dune on which it sits, giving views towards the water from the front living space, and drops down to ground level at the back to connect directly with the garden. A corrugated iron shell creates a roof and external wall giving privacy and protecting the home from wind and sand.

"From the outside it looks like a modest shack but when you get into the consideration of sun angles and views and just capturing the essence of a shack, it’s beautifully done," jury chair Kristy McMillan said.

The design of features such as the front window was done carefully over the busy road in front of the house to focus on the water beyond, Ms McMillan said.

"Rather than a full-height window, it’s perfectly curated to . . . lose the view you don’t want see of the road and perfectly frames the view you do want to see," she said.

Women-run pub reclaims former strip club by Michael Bleby originally seen in The Australian Financial Review, 2 July 2020. Licensed by Copyright Agency. You may only copy or communicate this work with a licence.