Finalist 2022

Four Pillars Gin Distillery 2.0

Breathe / Four Pillars Gin

Breathe and Four Pillars Gin has created a stunning new, immersive gin experience in their birthplace, Healesville.

Breathe and Four Pillars Gin has created a new, immersive gin experience in their birthplace, Healesville. Born and raised in this stunning part of the Yarra Valley surrounded by mountains, temperate rainforest, oaks, and elms, throughout the design we acknowledge Four Pillars’ origin, their history, and their deep connection to the place where it all began. 100% fossil fuel-free, a commitment to sustainability is honoured throughout. Made from the same material as the gin stills inside, a stunning copper veil wraps around the distillery working as a natural heat exchanger, creating a steamy, iconic entry moment to remember.

Design Brief

Four Pillars came to us with a simple need to expand their hospitality space to satisfy the needs of the thirsty crowds queuing at the door each weekend. The rapid success of the brand from inception also meant they needed to increase bottling capacity. They wanted to create a variety of event spaces, and experiences to excite curious visitors and seasoned gin connoisseurs alike. Importantly, they wanted to achieve these goals through a holistically sustainable lens while staying true to their incredible brand and to pay homage to the beautiful landscape they sit within. The project needed to carry out its primary building functions within an efficient warehouse addition, mirroring the architectural type of the existing facility, with an addition of a unifying design element to add intrigue and identity to the distillery, wrapping the ‘ordinary’ with something ‘extraordinary.’.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

While nearly tripling the capacity for visitors, the expansion delivers a much-needed new production space, an outdoor gin garden, tuckshop, dedicated gin shop, a custom-built bar, and events space cementing Four Pillars as the largest gin-focussed distillery in Australia. Designed by Breathe in Melbourne in collaboration with Four Pillars in Healesville, the new distillery was designed not just to increase production capacity, but also to champion Four Pillars’ future, taking their place on the world stage as a global leader in quality, craft, gin. It is a place where curious visitors and connoisseurs alike can engage with the entire distillation and bottling process while enjoying an exceptional food and beverage experience.

Four Pillars’ award-winning distillation process starts with native and exotic botanicals so it made sense for their new distillery to be designed to celebrate and engage the lush landscape that it sits within. We wanted to ensure the natural biodiverse gardens beyond the site wrapped up and were woven into each building. A stunning copper veil wraps around the new distillery, unifying the site. Made from the same material as the gin stills inside, the veil works as a natural heat exchanger, reducing energy consumption on site. At times, particularly in winter, steam can be seen rising from the veil creating an iconic entry moment. It tells the story of making, precision and production. A central courtyard featuring ground cover planting creates a verdant welcome. The “chai river" runs through the courtyard cooling the stillage water from the stills, while the spiced chai scent emanates through the space.

Design Excellence

Importantly, this project will see Four Pillars continue their commitment to sustainability and community with the implementation of new sustainability initiatives and the creation of countless local jobs. The design helped Four Pillars become Australia’s first carbon-neutral gin business. 100% fossil fuel-free, sustainability is embedded from the copper veil, the 100 kW solar rooftop, the recycled masonry throughout to a restrained and crafted natural material palette that infuses hints of nature into this exceptional distillery installation. Ongoing waste minimisation was important to the project. All steel, concrete, and timber waste was recycled during construction. None of the excavation went to landfill. Gin is piped directly into the main bar from production through featured copper pipes that will see the site save 29 tonnes of glass per year. This project sees Four Pillars create an energetic hospitality destination to complement their incredible spirit.

Design Innovation

While the existing Four Pillars site could not be carbon neutral due to the gas required to operate the stills, it was important that the new site (2.0) be completely carbon neutral. However, the new site required the full functionality of a commercial kitchen so our biggest move was to design in an all-electric solution that could provide delicious food to accompany Four Pillar’s incredible gin drinks. An all-electric commercial kitchen is a bold move for any hospitality venue. Operationally, the existing site was producing a lot of glass waste through the use of individual gin bottles and tonic bottles. We wanted to challenge this by designing a solution to pipe gin direct from the stills into the new bar. Similarly, we wanted to reduce the use of individual tonic bottles so tonic has been moved to a keg system. These initiatives will reduce glass waste by 29 tonnes per year.

Design Impact

Four Pillars Gin Distillery 2.0 sets new benchmarks for sustainable retail and hospitality offerings in Australia. The expansion adds another cultural destination for Melburnians to day trip to regional Victoria and sees the creation of countless new local jobs for Healesville.

The principles of circular economy are at the heart of each design decision. Recycled and recyclable materials are used throughout. The design principles of reductionism were also used to remove anything not needed. For example, the floor is a polished concrete slab, rather than adding an additional floor on top. Services are left exposed. Nothing went to landfil in the creation of the project. Robust materials were chosen for their durability within a hospitality setting, less maintenance and no need for replacement. Landscaping was designed around botanicals that can be used in the stills. Distillery 2.0 is gas free, powered by a mix of solar and 100% certified GreenPower. Just the beginning of a long list of sustainability initiatives throughout.

Circular Design and Sustainability Features

Four Pillars Gin Distillery 2.0 has sustainability at the heart of every design decision. Initiatives include:

  • 100% fossil fuel free, powered by a mix of solar and 100% certified Green Power. 100KW solar with plans to increase this further Commercial kitchen is 100% electric, no gas.
  • Roof material selected for maximum solar reflection. Captured rainwater for irrigation and toilet flushing.
  • Landscaping - local, native or food producing plants.
  • Material reductionism - removal of unnecessary coatings and finishes from interiors. E.g raw copper & steel joinery, polished structural floor slab, exposed steel structure & precast walls, natural coir matting, natural recycled brick, raw copper tapware, exposed services.
  • Gin is piped directly into the main bar from production through featured copper pipes to reduce glass waste. It is expected that this will reduce glass recycling by 10 tonnes per year.
  • Tonic taps - moved from bottled tonic to tonic in kegs which is expected to reduce glass waste by up to 19 tonnes per year.
  • All steel, concrete and timber waste was recycled during construction. No excavation went to landfill.
  • Robust natural and raw materials throughout designed to wear well & have ability to be recycled at end of life Low VOC paint & sealer finishes.
  • Envirocrete - approx. 40% reduction in cementitious content and silica, 25% manufactured sand content (manufactured sand is also a by-product) and 50% recycled water content.
  • Australian hardwood timbers.
  • Recycled bricks and brick tiles.
  • Copper pipe veil encloses the site. A section serves the function of pre-cooling the still condenser water as it is pumped through the copper pipes before it goes into coolers.
  • Raw Galvanised steel.
  • Locally made steel windows Pinatex upholstery - natural fabric made from pineapple fibre Australian-made furniture by local designers
  • Jude’s Gin Garden is an exterior roofed Australian hardwood deck featuring plants that can be distilled

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