The team at B3 Designers is no stranger to working with diverse concepts and unique locations, so you might say that this characterful cafe/bar with a twist was right up its street. Located in the Hungerford arches next to the South Bank Centre, this new hospitality venue pays homage to the life and work of its namesake, Polish-born British expressionist painter and draughtsman, Feliks Topolski.
In 1953, Feliks Topolski established his studio in an arch beneath Hungerford Bridge, before acquiring the nearby arches that Topolski now inhabits in 1975.
The central objective for B3 Designers was to transform this 370m² arch space into an inviting venue and gallery that would allow visitors to best enjoy Topolski’s work.
The key to this design was that the overall aesthetic of the space should emulate something of Topolski’s utilitarian artistic approach. Indeed, one of the main interior features is the reclaimed scaffolding within the ceiling of the arches. Clad with simple plywood and softwood battens, the scaffolding references art crates used for transportation, while also doubling as an ideal means of displaying some of Topolski’s larger pieces.
The large, centrally-located bar mirrors the same design, with softwood battens and ply cladding, while the bar top itself is formed from reclaimed and graffitied school desks.
The back of the arches, meanwhile, are dedicated to the Topolski Chronicles – vibrant hand-sketched accounts of iconic figures, political and historical events spanning three decades of the 20th century. Valued even today as a fascinating and instructive commentary on the period, these illustrations have been incorporated into a bespoke papier-mache wallpaper design selected by B3 Designers.
The authentic and somewhat understated materials and furnishings used within the restaurant not only enhance the impact of Topolski’s work, but also suggest something of his down-to-earth creative approach.