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Now an inclusive, multi-venue destination, the Bassendean Hotel celebrates its local identity, rejuvenating a historic landmark and paying homage to the rich history of Bassendean.
Embedded in the fabric of Perth since the 1930s, the cornerstone Bassendean Hotel has been cast forward from a bygone era through a close collaboration between Woods Bagot and Ark Group and operator Australian Venue Co.
‘Basso’, as it’s affectionately known to locals, has undergone a two-year redevelopment, with the two-storey building now featuring six bars, two kitchens and nine signature zones paying tribute to the history of the pub and its owners.
Principal Eva Sue says that Woods Bagot’s design spun out from a deep understanding of Bassendean Hotel’s multi-layered history and an ambition to reinstate the corner hotel’s role as the community’s social and cultural heart.
Talk to Eva Sue about Bassendean Hotel
“Since establishment, Basso has seen numerous – often unsympathetic – alterations that removed or concealed many of the original finishes,” says Sue.
“We began the journey by exposing the historic bones of the building to reveal the hotel’s past. The design celebrates the original architectural features including timber beams, brickwork, remnants of pressed tin ceilings and unearthed fireplaces under 1970s render.”
This unearthing of history was a process of discovery for Woods Bagot’s design team. Where the team couldn’t reveal the original finishes, it exposed the original structure – the beams and the brickwork, the marks of the people who built it.
“Working in an existing building that doesn’t have record drawings – especially a building that has been altered several times – can be a shot in the dark,” says Woods Bagot Senior Associate John Liddiard. “It keeps everyone on their toes, wondering when the next surprise will be uncovered.”
The six service bars are made up of a sports bar, a saloon bar, two courtyard bars, a speakeasy, and a balcony bar. These are supported by an al-fresco verandah, a club room, a snug and a self-contained function room. Each space tells a different story of the history of the site and of the characters who have passed through the doors.
The sport’s bar, Connolly’s, is named after the original owner and Perth racing identity Patrick Connolly and celebrates Bassendean’s sporting history.
Named after the daughter of the family who bought the Hotel after Connolly’s demise, Daphne’s Snug offers a smaller lounge with layers of texture: timber paneling, bespoke carpet and button-back banquette seats.
The main public bar, The Saloon, has been stripped of previous refurbishments to uncover the remnants of the original pressed tin ceiling and a long-hidden fireplace. Retaining the original windows and removing many of the old, dark finishes, the bar has become a bright, light-filled space. A new timber hero bar, coupled with an antique back bar, creates an ageless centerpiece.
The intimate and moody finishes of Gallagher’s Bar are evocative of the speakeasy bars of the Prohibition-era and make an irreverent nod to the Temperance movement, whose members objected to the building of the hotel.
“The fit-out is layered and textured throughout, with hundreds of antique and vintage pieces sourced to evoke the spirits of the age,” says Eva Sue.
“Local historian Jennie Carter was enlisted to collect and feature 200 historical images for display which imbue each space with its own character to reflect stories from the hotel and the community’s past.”
In design development stage, Woods Bagot considered the very function of the traditional British and Australian pub, their role in communities and their prejudicial history.
“The hotel has always been a gathering space for the Bassendean community. It was very important to us that what once-was a male dominated venue will now be inclusive. Different groups will now feel comfortable and welcome,” says Sue.
By converting part of the hotel carpark that faced onto Old Perth Road into a prominent courtyard, Woods Bagot extended the activated frontage of the original hotel to create a new family-friendly venue incorporating a children’s playground.
State manager for Australian Venue Co. Joe Baily said that in the re-opening of the Bassendean Hotel we see how the humble pub has evolved over the past 20 years.
“When there was smoking, pubs were pubs — you wouldn’t take your family for a meal there,” he said. “Now people want to have family-friendly venues where they can enjoy good food, and good wine and beer, and also be able to keep the kids entertained.”