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Home Bar | The New Institute | Germany

The Home Bar

The New Institute in Hamburg is an experimental initiative to help re-imagine the way people live and work for future societies.

We were invited as part of an international team of architectural and interior specialists to transform a row of 19th century houses, known as the Warburg Ensemble, into a space where fellows and their families can live and collaboratively work together.

From working with us on a private project, our client sought Artichoke’s expertise and creativity for a home bar as a hub for social events at the New Institute. Our other commission in this series was a remarkable kitchen.

The bar was to be a space for serving refreshments during the day and into the evening. As with so much of our work, our brief was to make the bar feel like it had always belonged there.
The result? A dignified and modern bar room – welcoming people to a space where they come together without constraint.

Reviewing the space and architecture

The vision for the New Institute was to create a continuous space that ran through the row of buildings allowing guests to easily circulate.  Walls needed knocking down to open up the building – not an easy task in a cluster of historic properties. This newly formed space showed the marks of its past, with many doors and entrances leading in different directions, and ceilings of varying heights interrupting the order of the interiors. It was a seemingly irregular collection of rooms that contrasted with the organised and classical external facade.

Rationalising this newly created double room was our key task – forming the central hub of the network of buildings.

Our first challenge was clear: making the bar appear an integral part of the room’s original design, as though the entire space had been thoughtfully arranged to accommodate a dedicated bar area.

Key technical design considerations

After careful consideration, we discovered a way to define a perfect square footprint for the bar, creating real harmony as a centrepiece of the building.

This architectural design solution involved creating symmetrical openings that allowed us to extend the wall forward, locking the furniture into the fabric of the building itself.

The cube created within this space also gave us the ability to create a classical domed ceiling reminiscent of John Soane’s architectural style. These significant but measured changes created an exquisitely proportioned home bar, optimising circulation around the room whilst providing bartenders with plenty of space in which to work.

Aesthetics and materials

Together with a local plasterer, we explored the intricacies of cornices and ceiling details typical of the region’s architectural heritage, harmonising this space with the rest of the house.

The artisanal plasterwork we commissioned was a visual delight, characterised by the Sonian double flush beads in the plasterwork – a detail continued on the bar furniture.

The original Warburg Ensemble houses were brimming with a mish-mash of neo-classical details that demanded a modern intervention, one that aligned with The New Institute’s humanistic philosophies. Achieving a delicate balance between the traditional classical architecture and the modern ambition of The New Institute to bring harmony without losing the character and atmosphere of the building’s original features.

For the bar, we found our inspiration in the continental style of the 1920s, notably the fabulous ‘Bar di Passo’ in Milan. This quirky and playful drinks counter helped to unlock our design vision, resulting in a minimal style that gave the impression it had been there since the 1920s.

Our ability to control the interior architecture brought harmony to every dimension. From the perfectly proportioned square panes of glass in the mirrored cabinets to the precise mathematical planning of the room’s floor layout. Everything in the design felt grounded and considered.

For an extra layer of modernity, we designed a painted finish on the cabinets—uniform, matte colours protected by polishable lacquer. This unified the walls and the furniture, creating a seamless visual flow.

The result is a European-inspired bar that feels modern, with elements of rich timber and antiqued mirrors. The discreet beer and water taps and the versatility of pocket doors, effortlessly transform the space from a daytime café to a night-time bar.

The Artichoke effect

We created a space that redefines the bar experience. It is informal yet modern with a distinctive presence. As if it has always been there – delivering to our client’s dream of creating a space where great minds can form unlikely alliances over a cup of coffee or a cocktail.

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