Project Team

design: Breathe Architecture


lighting: Ambience Lighting
furniture: Good Green, Timber Revival

Iconic Melbourne pub and live music institution Northcote Social Club  reopened its doors following renovations to the historic venue, which has stood on a corner of High Street since 1894 (then known as the Commercial Hotel).

Breathe Architecture came on board for the redesign, connecting the dots between the band room and the bar and dining areas to create a warmer space that is functional for casual drinkers and diners as well as show-goers. A major challenge for Breathe was that, as architect Jeremy McCleod notes, “Everyone already loved the Northcote Social Club. They loved the honesty, the authenticity, the history. There was trepidation at changing anything.”

Thankfully for Melbourne pub lovers, Breathe Architecture had an assured approach to the renovations. “Our goal was not to reimagine the Northcote Social Club – we didn’t want to make it shiny and new,” says McLeod.  “Rather, we wanted to reinforce its strengths. We used the existing material palette to keep it familiar while redesigning the bandroom, bars and rear courtyard. It is better connected and more comfortable, while still feeling like a second home for punters.”

Abundant greenery livens up the outdoor deck – which now features a fully serviced bar – while sleek but understated furniture and fitouts give the indoor bar dining area a refreshed look.

The bandroom also received a facelift, with bleachers installed at the rear of the room – welcome news for the height-challenged – and the roof over the stage raised, giving performers a higher ceiling and hiding away the lighting rigs.

Rhys Gorgol is the Creative Director of The Company You Keep, the team responsible for the venue’s rebranding.  “We were conscious of representing the individual relationships punters
have with the venue. People develop deep bonds with venues as iconic as the Northcote Social Club, and no two views of the venue are the same. The evolved brand seeks to reflect these individual relationships; taking elements of the past graphic personalities, distilling and refining them to a clear, focused and familiar identity that embodies the past, present and future of the venue,” he says.

The redesign works in tandem with a renewed focus on Northcote Social Club’s food offering. Headed up by European-trained chef Martin De Korte, the kitchen is serving up a high-quality food offering featuring modern pub meals, tasty bar bites and an extensive burger menu.

In 2004, the pub received some much-needed TLC from The Corner Group and became the Northcote Social Club. In a mark of its continuing commitment to loyal patrons as well as future generations, Northcote Social Club’s new look is a reinvestment in the next 10 years of great food and music.