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Fortitude Valley, Queensland.

Photography by Mindi Cooke

Valley Hops Brewing is an independent brewery built atop an existing venue in the heart of Brisbane’s nightlife precinct. A place where the line between rooftop cocktail bar and rough-around-the-edges brewery is skilfully blurred to create a casual yet unique space where everyone can soak up the sun and views with beer in hand. 


The client was adamant that this bar was to be like no other! The perfect middle ground between the common fancy cocktail rooftop bar and the humble back-street brew shed. Somewhere everyone feels welcome yet still displays the design flare of an exclusive venue. 


“Modest, yet impressive”. This tricky request was the starting point for the materials palette. Concrete tilt-up panels and aged steel structural elements paired with rounded lines and lush greenery create a tough shell that is softened by a layer of calm. Custom detailing is evident throughout. Garden arbours, rolled steel booths, barrel vault ceilings, leadlight windows, table bases, vanities, and even the mosaic tiles on the restroom floors all started from a sketch. 


The leadlight windows that line the entire length of the bar draw upon the architectural history of the 140-year-old Empire Hotel building next door, operated by the same team and linked via a bridge and basement. Both the windows and the entry gate reflect the intricate designs of old pub shopfronts and incorporate a subtle hops design to hint at the brewing process. To further celebrate this process, the tall glazing surrounding the brewery allows the equipment to shine from all corners of the bar. All metalwork detailing draws inspiration from the well-known Cloudland building facade downstairs. 


The months of planning and construction was no easy feat! There was to be minimal disruption to the lower levels hosting events and to the main road crowding the building facade. The glass roof capping the previous top level was raised to form the roof of the new venue. Cranes lifted materials and beer tanks from the rear alleyway onto the rooftop. 


The central arbour, also lifted up by crane, was introduced to divide the space and add intimacy while also adding shade and guiding patrons towards the bar. Flexible furniture is designed around an informal dining experience for all group sizes wanting to share grazing plates on offer. 


Orientation of the bar area takes in both views over neighbouring buildings and glimpses of the Story Bridge. This view, as well as the ambience while on the rooftop, will continue to change as the greenery grows, eventually becoming a lush getaway from the hustle and bustle below.

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