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Captain Melville

August 21, 2013

Working with a heritage building, Breathe Architecture reinvents one of Victoria’s first licensed hotels to produce a steel and timber fitout inspired by the rebel spirit of the Australian gold rush.

Captain Melville is the re-invention of a dark, inner-city nightclub into a restaurant and bar inspired by the ghosts of the hotels first patrons. 

Amid a colony in a state of dichotomy, 1853 saw the construction of Mac’s Hotel – one of Victoria’s first licensed hotels. Settlers flooded to our shores chasing land, gold and new beginnings, while convicts railed against their injustice and the class system that created it.

In the spirit of this historic rebel narrative, the fitout is conceptually based on the mass occupation of Australia during the 1850s by immigrants chasing their fortunes in the Australian Gold Rush.

 Then, Melbourne had grown almost overnight from a tiny village into a gridded tent city.

The repetition of these simple peaked forms, erected from materials on-hand in the settlement and laid over the landscape, became the conceptual framework for the design and material palette
 of this bar and restaurant. Welling up from beneath the colony came the influence of the rebel spirit; here manifest in the tale of Captain Melville, the “Gentleman” Bushranger. Rousing a new layer of chaos and asymmetry, this renegade sentiment permeates through the venue’s new identity, branding and raw materiality.

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