Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, crazy cats and acrobats – welcome to the circus! The formerly ramshackle, 1911 Edwardian Gentlemen’s Washroom, is making a vibrant reappearance in the arts and entertainment sphere, as The Gentlemen’s Arthouse special events venue, in Newtown, Johannesburg this June.
A Delight to the Senses
‘ ‘Arthouse’ is a double entendre on the word ‘outhouse’ which is what this incredible space used to be,’ expresses Maira Koutsoudakis, CEO of Life Interiors + Architecture + Strategic Design. She continues by mentioning that: ‘Today it’s a celebration of gentlemen – all gentlemen – of the time and the concept of civility, but with a twist. The Gentlemen’s Arthouse, due to its nature as an insular, small foot-print, big concept space, is designed as a molecular mixology bar with a high-end tasting-menu and jaw-dropping theatrical performances.’
‘The drinks are a bit naughty – that’s how we want them to feel anyway – served in antique glasses. Even the food will be served in whatever piece of ‘antiquery’ we think is appropriate,’ comments executive chef, Jeanel Pieterse. She has been devoted to crafting meals such as stuffed marrow-bones, pressed springbok and bay leaf crème anglaise. She is also putting a new spin on the idea of assiettes. She elaborates by saying that: ‘The food is largely going to be slow-braised, a celebration of old and new Joburg, and the desserts will be very, very theatrical.’
A menu item that you simply cannot miss is the Crispy Crudo Cones, which are three mini biscuit-style hand rolls with three fillings, presented in a cone stand. Relish the biltong pate, fig salsa and biltong scented cured beef, nibble on cucumber mousse with tuna ceviche, deep fried nori and pomegranate caviar, or taste the slow roasted garlic and kiri cheese with chopped parsley, salmon tartare and jalapeno salsa.
Keeping in line with the craft cocktail fashion at upmarket bars around the country, the mixologist at The Gentlemen’s Arthouse is producing his own collection of aromatics and premier cocktails. The venue’s semi-precious stone bar will in addition, hold special and boutique wines.
When you step into The Gentlemen’s Arthouse, you experience the realm of the eccentric and astonishing, and the only thing to expect is the unexpected. The washroom has been revamped into a quaint, yet opulent and fresh space with velvet curtains, cathedral-style windows, heavy wooden bars, the original green tiles and urinals.
The Making of The Gentlemen’s Arthouse
‘At Life we’re all about heritage; respecting what has come before and enhancing it with what’s current, to create an engaging space that has a lot of soul,’ clarifies Maira.
The Life Interiors + Architecture + Strategic Design team, has been tasked with reconditioning The Gentlemen’s Arthouse, over the previous two years. A large amount of research and PHRA-G Heritage Council submissions, in addition to an extensive design procedure and cautious on-site restoration, has culminated in the establishment of an undoubtedly exquisite events location this June.
An off-site chef’s kitchen and new washrooms were constructed in a renovated container on the exterior of the 78m2 building. This served to optimise the space and restrict the new technological interposition, of amenities such as heating, cooling, ventilation and ablution resources, which would have had a rather intrusive interface with the heritage structure.
For the purpose of enhancing the modification from an outhouse to an Arthouse, authentic pieces of art by esteemed local artists, such as William Kentridge, Kendal Geers and Norman Catherine, have been put on display.
‘As opposed to integrating the historical buildings with the new mall alongside, we created a complete contrast – where old meets new, heritage meets contemporary in a synchronous manner of convenience and eccentricity,’ Maira points out.
All images courtesy of The Gentleman’s Arthouse.
In the mood for a sophisticated night out?
The Gentlemen’s Arthouse will begin hosting curated evenings every Thursday, which will be open to the public. These will continue on weekends later in the year. Meanwhile the Arthouse will be on offer as a full package events location, for hire, from Fridays to Wednesdays.
For bookings, or further information on ticket sales for the Thursday occasions, contact 010 592 1911, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, visit gentlemensarthouse.com.
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Discover yet another art establishment by reading Southern Guild and WHATIFTHEWORLD Join Forces.
Zeenat, a digital intern at ELLE Decoration, is a creative at heart with a passion for weddings, fashion and makeup. She adores blissful moments of solitude spent indulging in a warm cup of Rooibos tea, and red velvet cupcakes.
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