Some of the most dramatic dining rooms start life in another form entirely. This hasn’t slipped by Italian studio SMALL, which has transformed the old box office inside Bari’s historic Kursaal theatre into a striking new restaurant and American bar.
Taking the building’s late Liberty style as a starting point, the architects took inspiration from the ‘New Deco’ to highlight elements of the structure during its adaptive reuse, such as dramatic vaulted ceiling, original box office, and bardiglio marble floor. An imposing American bar fashioned from glass and aluminium greets guests as they enter, while split arch wall panels composed of mirrors and Vienna rattan inserts emphasise the 1920s ambience.
While a terrace is perfect for aperitivo, the best seats in the house are inside: upholstered couches in emerald green velvet and Viennese chairs are cosy settings for guests to ensconce themselves before feasting on a menu of local dishes. Notably, much of the furniture was made by local craftsmen.
As project architect Andrea Paone explains, ‘the aim was to reinterpret and turn the glorious past of the theatre, full of history and culture, into a contemporary and dynamic space respectful of its heritage.’