We think of Bombar as a crowded version of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawk.
The project is located on the ground floor of a corner building with grand storefronts facing Rue Prévost-Martin and Place des Augustins, in a very urban and popular area of Geneva.
The space was converted from an old pizzeria into a modern bar-bistro. Previously packed with fake furniture, a wood fired oven and layers of tiles, the first act was to undecorate the place, restore its original structure and reveal its spatial potential: roughly-cast concrete columns and load-bearing walls, a generous space cut 45° towards the corner of the housing block, 4 large windows, clad in “villebois” stone, overlooking the street.
An 8-meter long stainless steel bar follows the central axis of the space. Diners mingle around the large counter that turns into a high table towards the main entrance. Staff circle from all sides, blurring the lines between service and dining areas. Part bar, part “table d’hôte”, and even fresh pasta-making station by day, it is the centerpiece. Like a plinth, an ondulated front sustains the blade of the countertop, adding vibration to the space.
Previously hidden in the back, the nervy kitchen is now part of the main space with a passe-plat directly aligned to the bar, giving it a more prominent presence, almost like a control tower overlooking the runway. In contrast with the spacious bar, the kitchen itself is compact and extremely functional, allowing both back and front of house to operate smoothly during the rush. A 1-meter wide passage in between the kitchen and the bar leads to the restroom that used to be in the middle of the room.
Signs of the past remain as wood paneling was removed to reveal the original concrete walls that transition into stainless steel along the kitchen and behind the bar at the exact same height, creating a clean separation between the bustling floor and the immaculate ceiling. The yellow, green and black tiles, made by a factory in northern France since 1894, reminiscent of early 20th century European entryways and grocery stores, feel like they’ve always been there and tie the room together. Layed out parallel to the diagonal entrance, a 45° pattern is applied throughout. Inspired by Dutch constructivism, the pattern was determined in situ, during weekends, when nobody would disturb, until the loved combination was found.
Finally, a custom lighting suspension literally highlights the bar, reflecting on the countertop below and illuminating the drinks and plates at the same time. Together with the wooden tables, chairs and stools, the massive walnut fixture completes the chord of materials with a warm tone.