An interview with Steve Mckeag director, techne architecture + interior design

Since 2002, the multi-award-winning studio of Technē has contributed to Australia’s modern design aesthetic, elevating its architectural expression onto the international stage. As the firm behind bringing The Angel Tavern back to life, Technē is renowned for creating iconic Australian pubs and restaurants that are unique, playful and stand the test of time.

The social heart of Malvern Collective will be the reimagined Angel Tavern. What will people experience when they visit this new venue?

All our pubs offer a journey. People enjoy a sense of discovery as they move through a space, which is why we create a variety of venues within one venue – such as at Terminus Hotel or Garden State Hotel. At Malvern Collective, we’re creating a social hub with a similar experience. The pub will feature a collection of spaces including a central bar and terrace garden on Glenferrie Road, along with dining and function spaces, and plenty of ‘nooks and crannies’ where friends can gather.

The Angel Tavern has a rich history. How did you approach that aspect of its design?

Materiality is a key way to express the heritage of a space. We’re looking at which existing walls, arches and historic elements we can retain to showcase the Angel Tavern’s origins. The walls divide the spaces and provide us the framework, while the extraordinary ceilings and front bar have a lot of beautiful ornate details we aim to preserve.

Technē is renowned for its revitalisation of classic Melbourne pubs such as Prahran Hotel, Garden State Hotel and now The Espy. How did you approach the heritage of those venues?

For Garden State, we retained as much of the existing building’s fabric as possible, including the original textile factory’s sawtooth roof. At Prahran Hotel, we were able to keep the art deco façade, and that led to the use of circular motifs throughout the interiors. At The Espy, it was a similar story – being mindful of its legacy and the dedication it has inspired in patrons over the years. Restoring and reimagining these venues to their former glory is intrinsic to all our projects.

So many Technē venues are considered Melbourne dining institutions, such as Brunetti, Tonka and Movida. How important is the interior design to define a destination?

It’s integral. We spend so much of our time inside buildings, it’s critical to consider how each of these spaces will be experienced by the individual and how the design contributes to the destination’s atmosphere as a whole. The interior design of a venue is an extension of the overall experience. For us, this means developing iconic, vibrant and distinctive spaces that people will love spending time in.

What do you think are the key elements for a modern day pub’s success?

It’s really about creating a unique experience and captivating ambience. All our venues honour and reinterpret the traditions of an Aussie pub like the front bar and beer garden, combined with a new openness, versatility and sense of exploration that unfolds with every visit.

Melbourne is a social city with a strong gastronomic scene. What trends have you seen during your time at Technē? Is there a current style you can define?

There has definitely been a shift in the way hospitality venues are being designed. It’s less about the traditional constraints of the older typology and more about creating open and versatile spaces that act as an extension of the residential space.

For the residents of Malvern Collective, what will it will mean to have The Angel Tavern at their doorstep?

As well as a new iconic Melbourne destination, we’re creating a place where residents can enjoy their own sense of community. This will be a natural extension of their apartment – the perfect spot to come together with friends for a casual beer or with family for a special celebration. Plus, it will be imbued with character and a real sense of discovery. By weaving historic details through the design we’re able to write a brand new chapter for The Angel Tavern, without erasing the last one.

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