As summer beckons, Phaidon.com’s thoughts turn to people watching in exquisitely designed cafés in European capitals. After all, what’s the purpose of working in “the digital space” if, once in a while, we can’t sit in some genteel bolthole and watch the world go by while alerting our readers to the artistic and architectural delights of the city in question? Which is why we were happy to hear from Viennese architects Atelier Heiss Architekten, telling us about their new restaurant, Plachuttas Gasthaus zur Oper, in Walfischgasse.
The extensive reconstruction and joining together of two buildings, one of them part-protected historic monument, has been carried out with great sensitivity. Traditional Gasthaus terms have been reinterpreted and evoke a modern flair - we especially like the ‘dancing legs’ of the solid wood tables which reference the café’s proximity to the ballet of the Vienna State Opera nearby - glazed, sculpted tiles and a subdued colour palette complete the look.
The main dining room features vaults dating back to medieval times yet looks distinctly urban (minus the knife crime, thankfully). The Kitchen Room meanwhile, allows a view of what’s going on in the hothouse and gives a pleasingly constructed through view to the pavement café outside. The variety of dining areas is brought together in a harmonious whole by the continuous design and a clear axis through the rooms. The reception and bar area leads to two elliptical private rooms, which serve as cozy places for regulars lucky enough to live in the Austrian capital. The restaurant is just one project helping revitalise Vienna’s downtown area. If you’d like to see more examples of cleverly employed architecture check out The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture. It also comes in a handy travel version if you’re planning your own grand tour this summer. And don’t forget to pack one or two of our city guides before you go too.
Plachuttas Gasthaus zur Oper, A – 1010 Vienna, Walfischgasse 5-7
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