Büro KLK designed krypt.bar located in an ancient heritage building from the late 18th century in Vienna, Austria seeking to reveal the generic “genius loci” of the place creating an underground jazz club which gives the impression of a nearly surreal venue fallen out of times.

-text by the author

During the renovation works on an ancient heritage building from the late 18th century on Vienna’s traditional Berggasse, a bricked up staircase was found. It led to a twelve meters deep, second cellar area with approximately 250 square meters.

Located between Votivkirche and Sigmund Freud’s apartment, this cocktail and underground bar is an aesthetical gem. 

Historical investigations showed that it was a semi-legal establishment in the 50ies and 60ies in an era of Vienna’s flourishing jazz scene represented by names as Joe Zawinul or Fatty George. So the generic “genius loci” did not have to be invented but simply revealed. The circulation and dramaturgy of the cocktail bar starts at an undecorated, narrow entrance door that leads to a first-basement level, containing the wardrobe and a mirrored vestibule to a “floating” stair case, which suggests a touch of “Sunset Boulevard”. This pathway leads directly to the seven-meters main bar.

Several alcoves, a hidden booth, the smallest art gallery in Vienna and secret hallways surround the center piece and give the impression of a nearly surreal venue fallen out of times.

Due to the strict constraints concerning the conservation of a historic building the whole building equipment and appliances were situated in a concrete floor plate and in a load-bearing trussing which was directly generated from the engineering requirements. The whole static structure as well as the ventilating pipes and further installations, were cladded in composition gold. The floor plate is covered with a layer of Italian nero marquina marble manually laid in a herringbone bond. The cladding of the bar counter was cut out of a massive block of Sahara noir laurent gold marble applied in a mirrored pattern, and the counter plate was crafted out of a massive European walnut.

The furniture and illumination give the impression as if it was directly carried out of a museum of international furniture design. The famous Platner Arm Chairs by Knoll, the candle light by Ingo Maurer or the Sofa DS- 1025 by Ubald Klug are arranged with the brand-new bean bags by Alexander Wang for Poltrona Frau.

About Büro KLK | Kohlmayr Lutter Knapp

The “office for systemic design” which was founded by the three eponymous partners Theresia Kohlmayr (*1985), Jonathan Lutter (*1981) and Christian Knapp (*1980) in 2010 gained experience in the fields of gastronomy and temporary use right at the beginning
of their cooperation in the form of the “Betonküche” project. Here, empty street front shops in a range of locations across Vienna were converted for a single night into pop-up restaurants. This situationist approach was continued in the form of hotel rooms under the “Urbanauts” name and, most recently, developed further and professionalised under the umbrella brand Grätzlhotel. Kohlmayr Lutter Knapp is “one of the most interesting offices of the next generation due to both the refined interior designs and to the fact that they work not only as designers but also as entrepreneurs and consultants” (Places for People, Biennale Architettura 2016, Austrian Pavilion, p. 54 ff.). 

Their work was considered in the context of exhibitions, awards and nominations (American Architecture Prize 2017, Austrian State Prize for Design 2013, German Design Award 2015).

Facts & Credits
Project title  krypt.bar: archeology in a Jazz Club
Location  Vienna, Austria
Completion date  Spring 2017
Client  K 5 Beteiligungs GmbH
Architecture/Interior Design  Büro KLK & BFA
Architect  Heinz Lutter
Design  Jonathan Lutter, Christian Knapp, Fabian Lutter, Jürgen DePaul
Site Supervision  Cetus Baudevelopment GmbH & Oliver Gusella
Structural Engineering  Fröhlich & Locher
Photography  David Schreyer