Six Degrees Architecture
Melbourne, VIC, Australia
An extension of Guy Grossi’s famous Melbourne Restaurant Empire.
Hidden in a service lane behind Guy Grossi’s restaurant empire on Bourke Street, Arlechin started life as a store room for Guy’s vast wine collection. The designers; Six Degrees Architecture were approached by the owner, to create a space that not only stores wine, but could also seat dinner tables for private functions and turn into a wine bar of an evening.
Moving a lot of furniture to change from Function mode to Bar mode was not an option, nor was there space to store furniture. So, designers created adjustable tables, lights and fold down joinery, which would become part of the bar’s aesthetic.
The vaulted cork form is driven by a desire to get a sense of volume within the low space, and is also a strategy to accommodate extensive ductwork required to regulate temperature in the wine cellar. The steel racks and stained glass are custom built to not only store but to celebrate the wine.
Like its character in the Italian Commedia dell’arte Restaurant, Arlechin is a cheeky bar addition to the Grossi Restaurant empire. Hidden behind a dark vault-like façade, Arlechin is the wine cellar turn laneway bar that is the place to be naughty.
The venue is small and intimate, and accommodates a range of group sizes, whilst also attracting neighbourhood locals, sophisticated wine lovers and industrial lovers alike with its dungeon-like atmosphere and religious iconography.
Waiters from the adjacent restaurants can sneak into the bar through a hidden door to access the wine collection located in black steel racks at the perimeter of the venue. And, a state-of-the-art micro-kitchen provides a chance for the restaurant chefs to escape and experiment with dishes served to unsuspecting punters.
Bar staff mix cocktails behind the low marble bar slab, allowing punters the choice to watch or become part of the pantomime. Although the small and challenging space of the store room was difficult to work with, the design has allowed all modes of the bar to work effectively, with each of them channelling the sole purpose of the space.
The creation of Arlechin has been well received by the local community, with guests stating they enjoy the idea of being tucked away for hours, to enjoy the company of friends and family, whilst enjoying a good glass of wine.
Photography by Mark Chew.