Stomping Ground Morris Moore, Australia

March 17, 2022

Ambience Lighting faithfully restored lighting elements in this new Melbourne-based beer hall, matching the rustic yet contemporary interior design scheme by Studio Y and PlaceFormSpace. David Justice of Ambience tells darc more about their role in the project. 

Melbourne-based interior design firm Studio Y and building designer PlaceFormSpace transformed an old cigarette factory boiler room into a unique beer hall, Stomping Ground at Morris Moor, situated amidst an outer suburban industrial and residential area of the city. 

The Stomping Ground brewery needed to be a welcoming, inclusive, and energetic gathering place for locals to enjoy, while incorporating resourcefulness and sustainability into the core of its running and production. 

The existing conditions and relating structure of the current building had to be carefully investigated and incorporated into the architectural design. The large site meant that zoning had to be exceptionally considered to ensure sections felt intimate but also retained the open-plan beer hall experience. 

The large structure remained open-plan, with finishes staying mostly untouched to create a contemporary and industrial aesthetic that took inspiration from the original factory. 

“A mesmerising full-height timber grid structure is the main architectural feature; it was designed to be modular and exposed, visually linking the outdoor and indoor spaces,” describes Studio Y. “Internally it serves a practical purpose, carrying services such as lighting, AV, brewery mechanical equipment and beer pythons, with planters as a secondary functional use. Externally, the grid is used to support retractable roofs, translucent roofs, and walls. Intertwined with the landscaping, it allows the space to develop character and evolve over time. All connections are bolted, and the timber beams can be re-used at the end of the building’s lifespan or when a different use is required.”

A separate function area was designed to be elegant and timeless whilst remaining flexible. High ceilings, vertical pendants, feature arches, custom distressed paint and a private bridal suite all enhance the unique space while paying homage to the original building.

“The beer hall staircase leads up onto a bridge above the brewery area. It links to the amenities area and offices and offers an elevated perspective of the beer hall as well as insight in the brewery area from atop. The U-shaped bar separates the beer hall from the beer garden and is one of the key and central elements of the space. The hero bar is clad in existing switchboards and the existing blue floor paint is also a nod to the warehouse aesthetic,” continues the design studio.

“Every light fitting across the project has its own story. The lighting concept was designed to replicate the idea of a sunset beer session. All light fittings were tailored to have layers of optimised filters that replicate the natural colours of a sunset. In a commitment to sustainability and integration, the lighting designers, Ambience made a number of the light fixtures themselves including the refurbishment of original factory light fixtures.

David Justice, Managing Director at Ambience, discussed the design journey for the reclaimed space: “We used fixtures found and reclaimed from the original factory because we wanted to foster an authentic representation and design that is at home within the space. And from a story telling point of view, it’s quite captivating and elevates the character of the interior.

“A bold idea with creative and technical excellence was paramount. We also wanted to use the lit environment to help elevate a concept that worked just as much aesthetically as psychologically (feeling, mood and emotion). From here the fantastical idea of having a beer in an eternal sunset was born.

“We tailored and engineered all the light fittings to have layers of optimised filters that replicated the natural colours and tones of a sunset – a massive but ultimately rewarding undertaking as it’s one that patrons find extremely inviting. The design approach utilised natural light during the day, and we simplified the dimming controls but still provided the flexibility to control the light levels through the day or evening.

“The tricky part was decommissioning the old lights and then refitting them to be constant with the sunset theme. The budget wouldn’t allow us to use cutting-edge technology, so we had to look at theatre and photography techniques to help achieve that desired effect,” he adds. 

Light fittings from Encapsulite and Symphony Lighting were combined with Ambience’s bespoke fittings and the reclaimed pieces salvaged from the original building. 

“The process of restoring took old-fashioned elbow grease, pulling them apart, cleaning them, removing the webs out and giving the (deadly) spiders living in there a new home, before we gave them a facelift,” explains Justice.

“Because the refurbished fittings had poor quality materials in the diffusers, we had to revitalise them, so they paired and married with the other new fixtures. 

“It was critical to ensure that the distribution of the light falls on the skin consistently across the space. So, we did a lot of naked eye testing and modifications to make sure distribution was consistent throughout. It wasn’t just about applying sunset filters of a colour temperature to achieve the sunset look, we had to not only achieve the colour characteristics but also make sure every light had the right dispersing properties to achieve the grazing illumination,” he continues.

“A hallmark of the space was the intricate architecture, so this called for a lot of customisations and creating of a lighting strategy to integrate within the architecture. For example, linear fixtures within beam coves. The lights also had to be concealed within the spaces, so it looked like sunlight filtering down from within the beams. 

“The space also featured pub novelties such as a shuffleboard, so that called for custom pendants to fit the space perfectly. 

In the vast open plan space, there were key areas that needed a carefully considered lighting approach, i.e., dining, beer garden function space, bridal space, brewery, kitchen and alfresco.

“The vertical arches behind the bar follow circular AC jets that give it steampunk/machine feel inspired by the old boiler room,” says Justice. “Both the function space and beer hall take you to a unique bird’s eye view looking down at the space and action. With so many areas it was a feat to perfect delicate light pools of illumination gently grazing across surfaces. This was married with perfecting task lighting so the core of the business can operate safely and efficiently.

“This was a follow-through and tradition from previous collaborations with Stomping Ground that not only permeate through each experience but act like a stamp of authenticity upon the space.

“Being so hands-on in installing all the filters in replicating a sunset ourselves made it possible to experiment with our innovative approach, giving us absolute assurance that our desired effect was not only possible but being executed successfully.”

Steve Jeffares, Co-Founder Stomping Ground Brewing Co., added a concluding note: “We first collaborated on our flagship Brewery & Beer Hall in Collingwood in 2015 and set a new benchmark for brewery hospitality venues in Australia. We have worked with the team for all our venues ever since, culminating in the opening of Stomping Ground Morris Moor. While sharing design DNA with Collingwood, the result is both unique and stunning.”