Kiev – The team at AKZ Architectura knew that even modern-day cafés and restaurants in the Ukrainian capital tend to follow a Soviet-style layout: the landing zone separated via high-backs, thus creating narrow passages and nooks where visitors can sit isolated from each other; the kitchen is often kept completely closed, away from the eyes of diners. And so, for one the studio’s most recent projects, the team did the complete opposite: Bowl Café is a space that praises openness, communality and friendliness.
The location was a small Soviet-era apartment – built in the 1930s, the tight space was merely 48-sq-m. And just like the healthy food served at Bowl, the plan for this space was to merge eating and relaxation by using light building blocks. ‘The goal was for the transparency of the construction to not overload the space, and to successfully combine that with the idea of healthy nutrition that should not overload a guest’s stomach,’ explained AKZ’s Artem Vakhrin.
Therefore, the studio’s material of choice became stainless steel used in a distinctly light way: instead of the hard structural use it often has in the kitchen side, the team used a metal net for the seats and communal tables, thus allowing for a more airy interaction of people and spaces. The work and seating area are separated by marble, with some walls referencing Soviet-era wallpapers and others left bare, showing torn plaster and royal brick.
But still, the AKZ team acknowledges that their work can only go so far. ‘Everyone’s happy with the outcome, from the clients to the patrons, but many people tend to forget [particularly in social-media friendly times] that the key to success is not just to create an aesthetically pleasing space, but to also have a great product,’ added architect Katya Zuieva. ‘Sometimes people forget about that and concentrate all the forces on design. It’s about handling both sides equally.’