Portrait – ARK Group

We speak to ARK Group Managing Director Adam Kapinkoff about our five-project long love-affair and reinstating the social ecology of the Australian pub.

ARK Group Managing Director Adam Kapinkoff with Woods Bagot Principal Eva Sue.

There’s love in the eyes of Adam Kapinkoff when he talks about heritage pubs. This isn’t a quaint nostalgia, but a hearty respect that runs deep. It is through the resurrection of these heritage pubs that his family-owned business, ARK Group, has carved out a niche in venue development and operation that has become prolific in Perth.

“The pandemic and its localisation effect has definitely renewed interest in the local hotel typology. The simple fact that they are community assets for people to socialise, relax and celebrate, gets us excited.” says Kapinkoff. “With these cornerstone spaces, there’s a level of intrigue and connection from the local community because they’ve been a landmark in that area, often for a hundred years or more.”

It’s a respect for the history of each site that you can see in his continuing to self-describe as a ‘publican’, though his role as the Group Managing Director at ARK Group runs much deeper.

In his book, The Great Good Place sociologist Ramon Oldenburg extolled the virtues of ‘third places’: locations other than home and work that make up our social habitat, places where “unrelated people relate.” “The development of an informal public life depends on people finding and enjoying one another outside the cash nexus,” wrote Oldenburg.

ARK Group and Woods Bagot’s first collaboration on Market Grounds Perth completed in 2017.

Paying homage to the original Perth Market Grounds located on the site, the venue is made up of a series of eclectic spaces, which present a variety of dining and bar experiences.

“The development of an informal public life depends on people finding and enjoying one another outside the cash nexus.”

It’s a sentiment that is echoed by Kapinkoff – lamenting a failure to see the value and vulnerability of pubs, corner shops, and unplanned public spaces. He sees ARK Group’s role as ‘custodians’ of these venues.

“An awareness of the importance of quality venues that are considerate of their location and the local consumer is behind everything we do and that’s never changed,” says Kapinkoff

“A heritage pub has so much history and character that you just can’t build into a new structure. It’s essential to us to be respectful with renovations or additions and I think the local community and consumer recognizes and appreciates that.”

That ARK Group is a family-owned business has created an intimacy that cuts across each venue they have built and operated.

“We grew up around venues and we are still in our venues frequently. I like to think I know almost everyone who works in our group by name, so there is still a strong personal connection to our business and people,” says Kapinkoff.

Adam Kapinkoff and Eva Sue at their latest collaboration: Bassendean Hotel

ARK’s relationship with Woods Bagot is also a long love affair, beginning in 2017 with the award-winning inner-city pub Market Grounds that paid homage to the building’s historical roots as a marketplace.

“Woods Bagot has always been the right combination of professional and progressive and not afraid to throw ideas our way which is why we’ve enjoyed working with them on these projects, “describes Kapinkoff.

“Our latest venue in Mount Hawthorn will be our fifth with the team – so they must be doing something right!”

Woods Bagot Principal Eva Sue says it’s a relationship that’s evolved over the years but is founded on a fundamental desire to create spaces that foster connection, both between people, and between people and their environment.

“Social ecologies take root and thrive in the Australian pub and that’s nothing to be scoffed at,” says Sue. “As religiosity has declined, the F&B space, the local haunt has become a rare site for community gathering.”

“The survival of these local places requires intelligent policy. But it also depends on the ability of these places to adapt and transform and for the people who are adapting them to be cognizant of both their history and their potential. “

“We have found a fantastic partner in this social ecology project with ARK Group.”

“Woods Bagot has always been the right combination of professional and progressive and not afraid to throw ideas our way…”

Collaborative Case Study: Bassendean Hotel

For Woods Bagot and ARK Group’s development of the beloved Bassendean Hotel on Old Perth Road the focus was on reinstating its role as the community’s social and cultural heart.

To ensure that the upgraded hotel could connect with the wider neighbourhood, the team engaged with the local council to understand their community development strategies, demographic profiles and other relevant initiatives – deep diving into the past and identifying future aspirations to ensure cultural relevance.

Woods Bagot started by exposing the historic bones of the building to reveal the hotel’s layered past. The design celebrates original architectural features such as timber beams, brickwork, remnants of pressed tin ceilings and unearthed fireplaces under 1970s render. We also had a little fun by creating a series of eclectic spaces personified by characters associated with the hotel’s history and these spaces will be layered with curated artwork, historic photography, antiques and objects.

The Bassendean’s future as a welcoming and inclusive landmark has been solidified by the creation of multiple zones which appeal to different patrons and support the activities of the neighbourhood at large.  The profile of this project is not one that’s gone unnoticed – with nationally recognised hospitality operators Australian Venue Co taking on ownership of the hotel once it is set for opening. Currently in construction, the project is a labour of love shared with our client and the builder.

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