It is always a challenge to create hospitality settings within buildings of historical or cultural significance, and perhaps particularly so within a gallery or museum setting. Briefed with creating a brasserie within the recently-opened wing of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel, Baranowitz Kronenberg Architecture Studio (BK) has, however, created a visually arresting space fitting of the formidable structure in which it is housed.
Founded in 1932 by Tel Aviv’s first mayor, Meir Dizengoff, the museum has evolved from a modest collection of a few dozen pieces, to a portfolio comprising a number of major works and spanning three central buildings.
The museum’s most recent addition is the Herta and Paul Amir Building, designed by American architect, Preston Scott Cohen. Following its inauguration in 2011, the building’s intriguing linear and multi-layered structure has quickly acquired landmark status in Israel’s cultural capital.
With this prestigious backdrop in mind, Baranowitz Kronenberg Architecture Studio was tasked with developing a 400m² skeletal space into a dynamic restaurant and bar venue. Accessed via a public piazza which flanks the museum compound, guests must first exit the museum, and cross the museum’s sculpture garden and grove of eucalyptus trees to reach Pastel.
BK’s central narrative was one of ‘new and next’, represented by the blend of hyper-geometric architecture of the wing with decor that evokes the historic status of The Brasserie as a bastion of social and culinary activity within the Western world.
The white geometrical form that dominates the brasserie’s ceiling appears to gently envelop the space, while south-easterly light from the floor-to-ceiling windows bounces off the grey stone flooring to create a soft, welcoming air.
The conventional aesthetic of a brasserie is, in turn, evoked through the use of booth seating, crystal chandeliers, voluptuous marble tops and Thonet chairs.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of the project, however, is the so-called ‘alcohol beat box’ – an adjoining mini bar artfully concealed from diners’ sight. This secreted space exudes a highly contrasting ambiance, with its dramatic decor and intimate seating areas.
Once through an inconspicuous acoustic door, guests are greeted by a striking 360° bar – the lofty geometric ceiling design used in the main dining space now taking on a more cavernous feel.
BK has opted for a palette of deep burgundy reds, which are echoed and filtered through the use of reflective surfacing, and artfully enhanced by spotlighting to cast the bar’s chic ottomans and banquettes in a dramatic glow.