Prince Public Bar and Little Prince Wine by IF Architecture.
After one last drink before closing in 2019, The Prince Public Bar finally reopened to the public after a long-awaited renovation. Located in St. Kilda, and found inside the well-regarded Prince Hotel (also known as the Prince of Wales Hotel), IF Architecture thoughtfully restored the bar to its former glory. Simultaneously, the architects also turned the accompanying retail and storage space beside the bar into what’s now known as Little Prince Wine.
The brief requested a renovation that was “still (holding) its own amongst the historic personalities of St Kilda”. Already located inside a rather glorious Art Deco building, the architects were careful in meandering the design details on the existing elements while introducing their own touches.
Once packed with dark timber and crowded banquette seatings, the new bar is exchanged for white and oak joinery, allowing the area to be more approachable during the day. Art Deco features that were once covered were returned or restored. Now, the forgotten ceiling accents provide an illusion of a double-height space. Added monochromatic black and pepper chairs and ebony glossy feature wall tiles continue to jazz up the interior for an equally modern and timeless feel. Windows once spotted in front are replaced with sleek black steel-framed glass doors, encouraging the much-missed conversations and music to weave in and out of the bar.
The floorplan, which once had a toilet block oddly located in the centre, saw it relocated next to the kitchen at the rear, opening the space up for additional dining. This reorientation also enabled an introduction of the central horseshoe-shaped bar, replacing the wall that once served as a divider for a separate band room and queer bar. With the partition now removed, the bar is subtly realised with a hanging bottle shelf made of iridescent dichroic glass and rainbow-zinc detailing shining on the counter—an important bookmark to honour the pride flag that once hung between the walls.
Connecting to the bar is the Little Prince Wine. Made of two levels, IF Architecture breathed new life into the former rooms by transforming it into an intimate venue that allows visitors to dine, and appreciate or purchase wine. The interior is finished in a similar colour scheme to the bar, although the materials are fashioned for a modern contemporary approach.
There are some elements here that would make one wonder whether the space was partially influenced by Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s unforgettable Little Prince. Looking at the pale green wall tiles, the red text for signposting as well as the stone basin/storage—it’s almost like the titular Prince may have left a bit of his magic behind before moving on to his next adventure.