On the banks of the Yarra these days, there are quite a few places to go and enjoy the velvety palette of a good craft beer, however following a redesign by Six Degrees Architects, one of the more popular spots is the rather curiously-named General Assembly waterside pub. 

Located on South Wharf close to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and part of the Matilda Bay Brewing Company, the General Assembly has been described as a modern day ‘Church for Beer’. 

According to the architects, their primary design challenge was “finding a way a way to convert a vast cavernous space, lined with white plasterboard and pictures of climate change skeptic Lord Monckton, into a warm and inviting pub.”

The secondary challenge was designing an establishment that is successfully able to trade through Melbourne’s cold and blustery winter as well as the warmer climes of the summer months.

The answers to both challenges revolved around the attention to detail on the inside by applying a combination of colour, texture and light in order utilise a palette of warm plywoods and mirrors, with copper and marble detailing to the bar. 

This succeeds in bringing a level of intimacy to what is otherwise a working micro-brewery crossed with a restaurant.

In order to provide the perception of extra space in what looks like may well have once been a boat shed, the high-level ceiling was blacked out to help focus activity at the patron level, while large copper ‘duo tanks’ with exposed beer pipes were prominently located to celebrate both the delivery and the consumption of beer.

Reinforcing the religious-like theme, a Hagia Sophia inspired steel chandelier was hung from the roof further helping to animate the large space. 

Only on closer inspection do the light pendants reveal themselves to be not religious paraphernalia but rather frosted Carlton Cold bottles, which (correctly) note the architects, “put an otherwise unpopular beer to good use”.

Other features worth noting include a projection of the Notre Dame's famous circular window as well as strips of red velvet, which all add to the church-like feel of the building.