Berlin Bar, Moscow

About the Project

When invited to design a Berlin Bar in Moscow, the Berlin-based archi­tect pro­posed a rad­i­cal yet poetic trans­la­tion. His con­cept trans­fers the pub­lic space of Berlin into an inte­rior space of Moscow. Within the inti­mate bar he cre­ated a social envi­ron­ment with con­crete wall reliefs of Berlin side­walks. These cast­ings of pave­ment seg­ments, taken per­son­ally by the archi­tect, reflect on the exchange and his­tory between Berlin and Moscow: the side­walk in front of Café Moskau, the for­mer demar­ca­tion line between the Russ­ian and the Amer­i­can Sec­tor (Check­point Char­lie) and the Berlin Wall, Glienicker Brücke and the dis­trict of Char­lot­ten­burg with it’s tra­di­tion­ally large Russ­ian pop­u­la­tion. The pave­ment stones are formed and imbued with the his­tory of the city and its peo­ple, hold­ing traces of Berlin life and its dra­matic polit­i­cal changes. With the excep­tion of the his­toric Stolper­steine mon­u­ment, these are an aspect of daily life that seems to go largely unno­ticed. Through an abstract con­crete image, Reich offers us a glimpse into the myr­iad of Berlin his­to­ries stored within. As a side effect, the ver­ti­cally posi­tioned ground plates of the bar con­struc­tion also cite the pre­fab build­ings that dom­i­nate Berlin’s cityscape and the artis­tic reliefs often found on facades and foy­ers of social­ist archi­tec­ture. The design con­cept con­nects Berlin with Moscow—yet with the rough­ness of the gray wall pan­el­ing and min­i­mal­is­tic use of con­crete in con­trast to the often col­or­ful and golden inte­ri­ors of gas­tro­nom­i­cal estab­lish­ments in Moscow.

What’s unique about it

Unique to Berlin are the every­day paving stones’ pat­terns and arrange­ments that Reich trans­lates into cast­ings, as are the pre­fab con­crete stones used as table­tops and for the bar counter. Avail­able in five stan­dard forms since pre-World War II, these generic paving stones have been grinded and pol­ished into table­top sur­faces, expos­ing ele­gant brass lines between each stone. A mas­sive bar com­bines all five types into a sin­gu­lar sculp­tural object.

Using Berlin’s urban street ele­ments as a script runs through Reich’s entire design con­cept; a nar­ra­tive that con­se­quently picks up on many traces and moments of Berlin life. The bar lamps—on first view glow­ing and wind­ing bands of light weav­ing through the room—are made up of mod­ules from East-Berlin street lights. The struc­ture of the brown leather benches come from sim­ple beer benches — once an import from South­ern Ger­many, they are now an inte­gral part of Berlins streetscape. Fur­ther pre­cise details reveal hand blown cock­tail glasses made with the same dia­mond struc­ture as the tables and a mir­ror cre­ated from repur­posed reflect­ing win­dow panes of the for­mer Palast der Repub­lik build­ing. Only mate­ri­als from Berlin have been used and all ele­ments were entirely pro­duced in Berlin. In the spa­cial design, past and present are closely entwined. The Berlin Bar reflects on the his­toric con­nec­tion between Moscow and Berlin while still cel­e­brat­ing Berlins present; the unfin­ished, the rough, the urban and the beauty that lies under­neath.

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