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Protagonist, industrial café-bar, by Balbek Bureau

Protagonist is a café-bar located in a historical part of Kharkiv, Ukraine. It is a hangout place for the creative and imaginative people, to share ideas and express themselves. Every guest here is a ‘protagonist’ – a leading character of their storylines, and an advocate of the creative ideas.

Designed by Balbek Bureau

Photographed by Andrey Bezuglov / Yevhenii Avramenko

It is a loft with concrete pillars that we stripped of old finishes to reveal the beauty of the ceiling's textures and intricate backside prints of previously removed floor tiles. These were the key elements we wanted to preserve, thus emphasizing the original architectural design of the building.

One of our tasks was to divide the space into functional zones and process flows. Thus, we designated the back of the room as a technological zone, while the central part along panoramic windows became the main dining area. A communal table that can accommodate large groups was placed in the middle of the room, and a full-size bar was positioned to the left of the table.