The increasing popularity of sports bars and other venues focused around community and a fun atmosphere, coupled with additional benefits such as craft beers and good food, has seen an upsurge in business for town centre pubs that successfully combine their attractions to appeal to a cross section of the population.
The Western Sports and Social in Rickmansworth, which opened its doors recently in this rural commuter town, is an excellent example of a contemporary reincarnation of a popular venue. Once known as Druids, the pub has seen significant investment by independent pub company, Punch, to create a vibrant new attraction at the heart of the local community.
The total transformation of the building has included the construction of a new kitchen and cellar, relocated toilets and the addition of accessible facilities, all of which required excavation works to create two levels. The work has been overseen by interior design and architectural specialists Nanu Soda.
Inside the venue, the team from Nanu Soda was tasked with creating an atmosphere and identity capable of crossing the divide. This was first and foremost a sports bar, but also designed as a welcoming space with a broader appeal for shoppers, visitors and locals alike. The challenge was to achieve this whilst retaining the community role of the pub which is a defining feature for all Punch establishments.
The scheme designed by Nanu Soda has successfully created a high end, premium finish capable of providing both performance and style. With a nine-screen video wall showing live sporting events, the décor needed to be robust enough to meet the demands of a lively and vibrant clientèle enjoying live sporting events yet welcoming enough to encourage patrons to dine and relax.
To achieve a more resistant finish, the venue now features different styles of timber flooring including herringbone, straight plank and Karndean. The bar has been redesigned with a robust tiled and metal mesh finish, whilst fixed seating includes semi-circular window bays and booths with comfortable velvet backs and vinyl leather seat bases for comfort and performance.
The ambiance created steers away from being too masculine and blends dark greys with bold contrasting colours and deep yellow tiling. Bespoke lighting solutions delineate different space and functions, whilst carefully selected bric-a-brac gives a vintage feel with a nod to the sports focus of the venue. Incorporation of a shuffleboard area adds to the vibrant atmosphere.
“This was a more complex project that originally envisaged, with a challenging architectural element,” stated Ellen Pryce for Nanu Soda. “The plans called for structural works to the old extension, where we had to build brick piers larger than originally intended and bring in new steels. Planning issues with signage also had to be negotiated and overcome. Despite this, the project was completed on time; we brought in extra labour to ensure opening deadlines were met.”
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