Divercity were invited to design the bistro & bar area of the revamped Hytra Restaurant & Bar on the 6th floor of Onassis Cultural Centre Athens.
The Onassis Cultural Centre (designed by French practice, Architecture Studio) is a key cultural hub in downtown Athens that was inaugurated in late 2010 and has risen to undisputed prominence in the city.
The OCC hosts world-class events, with an emphasis on contemporary visual and performing arts. As its Greek name suggests, the OCC is meant as a shelter (stegi) for the local creative community, by fostering international collaborations, promoting visibility, and offering opportunities for networking and life-long learning.
Hytra, which is Greek for "kettle", features OCC's existing gourmet Michelin star restaurant and a new bar bistro with a contemporary take on traditional Greek dishes. As an inherent part of OCC, Hytra nurtures an important bond between the city and Athenians, bringing the urban community together in this vibrant cultural epicenter. With this in mind, the brief set out the need to create a dynamic, social space that would appeal to visitors both throughout the day and after a performance.
The design strategy was firstly inspired by the distinct language of the building's marble louvered facade at night, it's striking form echoed in the visual approach taken by Divercity. Inspiration was then, in a second instance, drawn from Hytra's emphasis on locally sourced, fresh Greek ingredients, which is the basis of Greek cuisine. Referencing traditional Greek basket weaving and the farmer's wicker collection basket, the main feature of the design, made out of woven willow branches, was a central bar with dining, which gathers visitors together around it. Light spilling out through the willow's weave echoes the OCC's facade at night, a beacon of light promising a unique and communal experience. This is also enhanced with panels of woven willow on all the back walls of the banquets, unifying the entire restaurant and bar space.
This focus on creating a social, communal space was an essential part of the brief as it is at the heart of the OCC's ethos. During the evening and into the night, the Onassis Cultural Centre and Hytra really come alive, an aim the redesign hopes to capture and enrich, drawing in visitors to gather and socialise around the striking central bar.