Velocità 2020

Velocità is a gelateria, tiramisu and coffee shop on Calea Victoriei, the main historical boulevard of Bucharest. Expressing the italian flavor while bringing back the former glory of the building resulted in a contemporary synthesis of Milan Modernism and Art Déco.

In order for the layout to be flexible but also to avoid the rigid separation between customers and baristas, the bar is made of separate mobile pieces on heavy-duty castors that can be moved around for a variety of configurations. Water and power supply also have multiple positions and quick connections. This flexibility proved extremely useful also during the pandemic.

Colors are the original ones we found by peeling layers of paint, and incidentally (or not) were close to the creamy colors of tiramisu, vanilla ice cream and latte. The terrazzo is a custom recipe, with colorful stones reminding the ingredients in the products on display (brown silex for coffee and chocolate, orange for citrus fruits, green marble for pistachio and mint). As products are made on the spot, the choice of materials (terrazzo, stainless steel, white marble, glossy paint) is laboratory compatible and supports the purity of the process.

The almost clinical cleanliness is soften by the rattan and curved wood furniture, the subtly warm paint tones and orange details as well as by the carefully placed 3000K spotlights conveying a sense of warmth and intimacy in what seems a perpetual sunset. The curved wood and rattan chairs are also a distant reminder of the Thonets, traditionally to be found in the historical cafés in the area.

The citizens of Bucharest keep a romanticized image of their city through sepia color post cards featuring interwar Calea Victoriei. We painted the façade in the same color palette as if frozen in a time of past glory.

Sadly, most of the architectural heritage of Bucharest is in tragic state of neglect, disrepair, permanent threat from developers and lack of protection from authorities. It was the case with our building, a former luxurious Art Déco corner building. We hope Velocità to be also a call to action in a city where the value of heritage is not understood and by no means a priority.

Hence, we ventured in an almost archeological quest for remaining witnesses. We discovered in the backyard an original secondary door, which gave us inspiration for the ironwork details, some very Jean Prouvé circles patterns and various shades of marble, so we built our family of shapes, textures and colors based on these valuable findings.

Of course, it seems out of place today to be so mindful about the past as we have more immediate issues: sustainability, wellbeing, technology, inclusion and innovation. But isn’t preservation the epitome of sustainability and what better way to induce wellbeing than by a sense of continuity, acutely lacking from our lives always under threat by too quick, too many changes? Being in the forefront of innovation actually did not always prove the best way to protect the environment.

"One who forges ahead, creating something new, does so like a rower, moving forward but back-paddling, looking behind him, towards the past.”

Project in collaboration with Workroom Architecture

Team: Corvin Cristian, Serban Rosca, Petru Lalut