18−20 May 2021

IEC, 15, Brovarsky Prospect
Kyiv, Ukraine


16 September 2016

Project of the Week: Orang+utan, Kyiv, Ukraine

Project of the Week: Orang+utan, Kyiv, Ukraine


On the ground floor of one of central Kyiv’s turn of the century apartment buildings, is a hidden gem of contemporary design. From the outside, the building seems one of many faded opulent buildings with faux relief columns and grand lions’ heads either side of an archway leading to a courtyard. Inside, however, it is a completely different feel: one of clean lines and contemporary design.


Yulia Savlepova called in AKZ Architectura to transform the space, formerly a small gift shop, into a destination for design-aware, trendy Ukrainians. The Orang+utan sandwich bar and takeaway opened in September 2015. One of only a handful of vegetarian establishments in Kyiv, it is one of a kind in terms of its décor. 


Orang+utan’s philosophy centres around the importance of the natural, fresh food and ingredients it serves. However, rather than opting for a rustic, natural, unrefined feel common in vegetarian and non-vegetarian restaurants alike, AKZ Architectura has gone with a strong, distinctive look that has become its hallmark.


White tiles. There are white tiles on the walls, white tiles on the ceiling, white tiles in the bathroom, and white tiles on the service counter. The whole place, illuminated by bright white fluorescent strip lighting, reflects the light and acts as a beacon attracting visitors in off the street. The tiles are inescapable but it is the black grouting that stands out. It creates a squared pattern that follows the shapes of the small space.




The effect is like a room made by Jean-Pierre Raynaud, the artist who creates structures covered entirely with 15 x 15 cm while tiles. While the architects were born after 1991 and the collapse of the Soviet Union, older customers see connections to the Soviet period when only one type of tile – plain white – was used for everything from hospitals and shops to pools and canteens. The tiles are also reminiscent of a traditional butcher’s counter, only reworked for Kyiv’s hip, modern vegetarians.


While the basic interior elements seem harsh, sterile and artificial, occasional splashes of colour are provided by a grouping of tropical plants in an alcove opposite the toilets and decorative fruit and flower arrangements scattered throughout. The stylish, minimalist design is ideal for stopping by to grab a sandwich and snapping an Instagram photo; the appropriate hashtag is conveniently placed on the wall in front of the mirror. The white, patterned décor both contrasts to and acts as a stage to present the vibrancy of the fresh food and vegetation. It is the food, the plants, and the people that create the colour and variety in this lively little sandwich shop.