Polish design studio Projekt Praga has overhauled the taproom of a centuries-old brewery outside Kraków to accommodate a new bar and restaurant, inserting bold contemporary elements into the historic brick-vaulted space.
Tenczynek Brewery dates back to 1553, although parts of the building were destroyed during world war two and only reconstructed in 2014.
The original taproom spans an area of 250 square metres, with a little under half of the space devoted to the bar and eatery. The remainder was allocated to the kitchen and the alembic, where spirits are distilled behind a glass partition.
Projekt Praga opted for a minimal-intervention approach in order to respect the existing architecture and reduce the project's environmental impact.
This included exposing the original brick walls from behind a layer of tiles, leaving them "raw" in a bid to minimise construction waste and emissions.
The new elements were made from a palette of natural materials – including oak, ceramics, steel and glass – in collaboration with Polish artisans and craftspeople.
"In Tenczynek, we understood the importance of the local character of the brewery," Projekt Praga co-founder Marcin Garbacki told Dezeen. "Here, the production of beer and vodka is carried out using traditional methods."
"The place has a unique atmosphere and energy that works well with individual craftsmanship," he added. "The design elements are intricately tied to the brewery's artisanal nature, seamlessly integrated into the existing space without attempting to transform it."
The principal focal point of The Taproom is a central self-service drinks fountain, set inside a column clad in handmade ceramic tiles by family-run workshop Ardea Arte.
Their warm burgundy tone layers with the original brickwork and the rich reds used across shelving and table legs to create an intense and immersive atmosphere.
The dispenser allows visitors to pour themselves any desired amount of beer or vodka using 14 different taps.
"Since this element defines the modus operandi of the venue – it's a taproom – we decided to turn it into a centrally located mini-rotunda, the heart of the space," Garbacki said.
"It defines the logic of the space and facilitates accidental meetings of different users, serving as a social tool."
The oak floor was designed to act much like a carpet to delineate space, stopping short of the walls at a distance of around ten centimetres in order to draw a clear distinction between old and new.
At the same time, the flooring helps to ground several of the bar's other oak elements, including the benches and tables by designer Artur Czajka.
"Part of our intention was to make a bold gesture in the space, a single fundamental intervention that will encompass all the other changes made and serve as a canvas for them," Garbacki said.
To counter the narrow, elongated nature of the space, Projekt Praga made strategical use of mirrors and other reflective finishes both to illuminate and to extend the sense of space.
"The reflecting mirrors placed in the arcades across from the windows add depth to the space and multiply the impressive brick arches," the studio said.
"Watched from a certain angle, they multiply natural light coming in through the windows, which is important as the natural light is quite restricted."
Handmade clay lamps suspended low over the tables enhance the venue's intimate atmosphere.
Created in collaboration with ceramicists Andrzej Bero and Piotr Linca, they feature a colour palette that links to the original brick as well as to the new materials used on the project.
By using a range of different shapes and sizes of lampshades, each table's setup is subtly different.
"The soft shapes of the smooth clay lamps are a bridge between the new interior decoration and the existing structure of the rough walls and arches," Garbacki said.
Tenczynek Brewery project has been shortlisted for this year's Dezeen Award in the restaurant and bar interior category alongside a seafood eatery with a vaulted-wood interior and Ikoyi by David Thulstrup, which is decorated with copper walls and a curved metal-mesh ceiling.
Projekt Praga, which was established by Marcin Garbacki and Karolina Tunajek in 2010, previously converted another historic brewery in Poland into minimalist apartments.
The photography is by ONI Studio.