Bia Hoi is not your average Vietnamese restaurant. True to the meaning of its name, it’s a vibrant Vietnamese beer hall that embodies the hustle and bustle of Vietnam and, in particular, its beer halls, which sell draft beer and snacks along crowded streets. And in Glen Waverley, it’s the perfect place to celebrate the punchy flavours and colours of owner and chef Jerry Mai’s food.
Designed by the creative team at Architects EAT, the bar is the focal point of the space, street art is used to embody the lively vibe and encourage patrons to ‘get rowdy’, and boundaries between inside and outside are blurred enabling the atmosphere to activate Bia Hoi’s shopfront.
Architects EAT’s design presents three distinct zones: A homely dining area, alluding to the rustic home aspect of Vietnamese streets, accentuated by greenery, silk lanterns and rustic shutters from Hoi An. A central island bar and mural, excitingly noisy and rowdy, alludes to the urban side of Vietnam. And the shopfront – a transient area with operable doors and windows – creates an in-between space for diners outdoors and indoors to enjoy the best of both worlds throughout the year.
The material palette helps brings this thoughtful design to life. “The intent was for the palette to look a little worn and urban to embody the streets of Vietnam. This meant maximising the use of texture through existing concrete floors, feature brick tiles, render, James Hardie Matrix Cladding and rustic wall tiles. Then we brought warmth into the space through brick and terracotta pipes to mimic traditional roof tiles and pops of timber,” says Alina Dain, Interior Designer, Architects EAT.
In particular, the Custom Rustic brick tile blend supplied by Robertson’s Building Products, on the shopfront walls, alfresco area, bar and servery, have accentuated the three key spaces in the design. “I was attracted to the colours and textures in the Robertson’s range, which complement the aesthetic of the space. Using a mix of colours (including Rustic Tan, Rustic Apricot and Rustic Red) allowed us to accentuate the texture of the material and look purposefully mismatched. The thickness of the brick tile gave us more flexibility than a traditional brick in terms of installation, due to the limited depth we had to work with, as well as application and cost,” Alina continues.
The combination of brick tiles, rattan, terracotta details, lanterns and metal louvers in a timber-look powdercoat creates a warm, yet worn urban street vibe.
Most striking to passers by is the image of the motorbike rider with a keg on the external facade, hand painted by a local street artist. The image was interpreted by Studio Equator from a photo of Jerry Mai’s, the idea being to create an Instagram-like wall, hence the stepped detail to the brick tiles. This image became central to Bia Hoi’s brand – as Vietnamese beer halls (or Bia Hoi, as they’re referred to in Vietnam) are known for selling fresh beer brewed daily by nearby small-batch breweries and served from kegs often delivered on the back of a motorcycle.
Architects EAT is to be congratulated for achieving the perfect balance between design and functionality, delivering a community-focused suburban restaurant where locals can enjoy modern Vietnamese food and boutique beers in a warm, casual and lively atmosphere.
Architect: Architects EAT
Product: Custom Rustic brick tile blend (Rustic Tan, Apricot and Red)
Builder: RCON Shop fitters
Artwork: Designed by Studio Equator, installed by a local artist
Photographer: Tim Allen, where indicated