In Slovakia, a former industrial district on the Danube’s northern bank has emerged as a vibrant hub for corporate clients, start-ups and freelancers. The neighbourhood’s transformation was kickstarted in 2021 by the conversion of the historic Bratislava Heating Plant — built in 1942 and designed by Dušan Jurkovič — into a contemporary co-working space by local firms Studio Perspectiv and DF Creative Group. The adaptive reuse project embraced the historic architecture, juxtaposing old and new to create an industrial yet futuristic aesthetic. Dubbed Base4Work, the co-working space includes a multi-functional hall, a café and a gallery — and now, Werk Restaurant, designed by another Bratislava studio, Beef Architekti, takes prime position on the building’s ground floor.
In designing Werk Restaurant, the architects drew inspiration from the design language established by Studio Perspectiv and DF Creative Group in the site’s renovation. An important meeting place within the building, the restaurant is distinguished from the entrance hall by a wall of sliding glass doors with original metal frames that nod to the building’s heritage. Inside, overhead silos, exposed brick walls and slim steel components add to the industrial appeal.
Given the building’s diverse uses, it was crucial that the restaurant respond to its changing needs throughout the day. In the morning, a small breakfast area is demarcated with a curtain, while during the workday, the space takes on the role of an office canteen, serving as a go-to spot for working lunches or just grabbing a quick coffee. Later in the evening, the restaurant transforms into a bar with live music (a process facilitated by components separated by a roller system under the ceiling).
The restaurant’s 200 seats are organized around a central open kitchen and bar, adding to the lively social atmosphere. A glazed wine cellar serves as another focal point. The mix of traditional tables and banquettes, stools, armchairs and low bar tables — as well as curtains which can be opened and closed — allow the interior to adapt with the restaurant’s flexible operations.
Like a well-appointed loft apartment, residential-inspired furnishings add a layer of softness to the interior’s industrial shell. Throughout, the architects play with a variety of materials and textures. Polished concrete floors define the main dining room, surrounded by a herringbone-patterned red brick walkway that complements the original exposed brick walls elsewhere in the space.
The bar’s mixture of Corten steel cladding and wood countertops is contrasted by light and airy steel mesh shelving above, elegantly lit and decorated with an eclectic series of wicker baskets. Meanwhile, along the windows, an elevated oak platform is outfitted with cozy armchairs upholstered in soft leather and textiles designed to patina with time. Greenery scattered throughout the interior introduces another element of warmth.
While in some areas, the black ceiling structure appears heavy and massive, it opens up in the centre to bring in ample natural light and views of the soaring atrium above (and in turn, spark curiosity from workers on the upper floors). The move takes cues from the rest of the building, where interior windows foster spontaneous interactions between tenants. Werk Restaurant embraces this social ethos inside and out: Set against the backdrop of the building’s historic façade, a welcoming atmosphere spills out onto a terrace overlooking the sunken square outside.
Werk Restaurant has set up shop in the former Bratislava Heating Plant, which was converted into a vibrant co-working space by Studio Perspectiv and DF Creative Group in 2021.