Ukraine-based architects Balbek Bureau completed the BURSA Hotel in 2018. Located in Podil, the cultural centre of the Ukrainian capital Kiev, BURSA describes itself as a ‘concept’ hotel slash art gallery. From the get-go, the vision was to create a unique destination with distinctive design and multiple functionalities.

BURSA resides in two neighbouring buildings, which are 100 and 200 years old respectively. Balbek Bureau undertook a total refurbishment, integrating the two structures into a single complex through the construction of an entirely new, modern block. The layout includes a non-commercial art gallery, 4-storey hotel, ground-floor restaurant and rooftop bar, altogether comprising 1,900sqm.

The remodel showed consideration and respect for the site’s eldest building; an architecturally significant monument with a rich history as one of Ukraine’s oldest academic academies, and former home to renowned local architect Andrey Melenskiy at the turn of the 18th century. Beyond functionality, the notion of linking the old buildings with the new hints at BURSA’s ethos, marrying history and traditions with modern art, design, and innovation.

Guided by the principles of ‘adaptive reuse,’ the architects preserved as much of the heritage construction as possible, with modern additions kept in check by the building’s original scale and features. Functional, simple geometric influences of the Bauhaus style inform much of the design. Each room is carefully arranged around clean lines, simple forms, and a monochrome palette with strategic injections of colour. There is zero ‘unnecessary’ décor so that even smaller rooms feel spacious and lively.

Despite BURSA’s contemporary offerings, Balbek Bureau sourced antique materials in keeping with the historical foundations they were working with. For example, they sourced bricks made the very same year as the original construction for the brick frieze in the restaurant, forming an integral part of the wall. Chairs were sourced from flea markets and antique stores in Paris and Norway and restored.

The hotel harmoniously links old and new, from the 200-year-old façade to the contemporary reception desk made of crumpled metal and panelled glass. The all-inclusive design is an intentional extension of their hospitality.

 

Related: Molodo Zeleno Pub in Lviv, Ukraine by Balbek Bureau.

 

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[Images courtesy of Balbek Bureau. Photography by Yevhenii Avramenko.]

 

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