Located in downtown Budapest, part of the city favoured by tourists and locals alike, Bestia restaurant and bar is on the ground floor of an eight-storey building, a stone’s throw away from St. Stephen’s Basilica. A great place for craft beer and sandwiches, Bara Design Studio were briefed to ensure the venue stood out from the numerous other coffee bars, restaurants and bars in the area and appealed to the unique nightlife – through new food alternatives and a new, outstanding design.
One wall of the venue is sheet glass, while the other three sides were closed to natural light, so the designers enabled the large glass surfaces to slide like doors, opening up the space. Innovative solutions were required for the lighting and mechanics to show off the existing concrete surfaces and ceilings.
The layout of the venue was reconfigured several times to make the best use of space and to fit the kitchen and bar into areas that would accommodate the evening and daytime trade, while also allowing for the different parts of the space – the bar, restaurant and kitchen to function seamlessly. The guest area and terrace can be joined, allowing guests free flow of movement.
Bara Design wanted to create an open theatre kitchen, but in order to do so several of the existing reinforced concrete walls had to be cut into – no easy task when there were another eight floors above the restaurant to consider. The kitchen is located in one corner, the size of which was dictated by the pizza oven, rotisserie and a josper, while also allowing for functional preparation areas. The rest of the kitchen is in the basement.
The central bar became a focal point in the design, and reflects the pub features and atmosphere. Clad in natural wood, the designers wanted the materials in the entire venue to be authentic.
The wood is real wood, the copper pipes are real, the metal surfaces and struts are real and the concrete is authentic too. Bara Design wanted this to reflect the synergy between the space and the chef’s ‘rustic’ dishes.
Characteristic features in this space include the studio’s signature use of graphics. A major part of the design are Alexis Diaz’s pasted up graphics which create feature walls, with an elephant-octopus and snake graphics writhing up the support pillars by the bar.
Lighting throughout the space was carefully planned; the design studio knew they wanted to leave several of the concrete walls exposed and were able to carefully plan exclusive lighting fixtures to resolve the darker areas of the interior and carefully included an illuminated glass wall.
Revealing the ceiling and exposed walls led to a range of exceptional lamps being used to light up the space and build atmosphere. Bara Design used custom-sized piping and diffusers to pipe the engineering and electrics.
Bara Design Studio drew on experience from recent projects in America to influence the design and have created a space that is one of the best ‘after-work’ locations in Budapest.
Images © Zsolt Batar