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Although renowned across the planet for its amazing splendour from an imperial past, many outsiders have yet to discover the lively and growing creative scene that gradually makes its mark on St. Petersburg. The loft Proyekt Etazhi, a hybrid and buzzing creative hub on the southeastern edge of the Tsentralniy district, bears witness to this shift in urban dynamics. Occupying five floors of a massive 1950s Soviet building that once housed a bakery, many of the industrial elements have been retained while in certain spaces well-balanced modern design additions have been carried out. Loft Proyekt Etazhi is currently home to a string of contemporary art galleries, exhibition spaces, a book shop and a café.

The latest addition to the complex is Sever, a bar with a cool underground feel that has quickly gained huge popularity among the city’s artsy crowds. It measures just 86 sqm. [926 sq.ft.] and occupies a space that once was the bakery’s cold-storage chamber. The space has been designed by Saveliy and Egor Arkhipenko, respectively the creative director and architect on the board of loft Proyekt Etazhi. The fraternal duo wisely decided to leave the industrial space intact, and only tweaked the design with a few minimal interventions. The concrete walls have been painted in a matte grey hue, while the eye-catching narrow corridor with a modern sturdy wooden bench and tables, reveals bare bricks and tiles covered in seemingly dripping black tar.

The intriguingly grotesque decorum is frivolously balanced out by a series of crystal pendant lamps that were sourced locally at vintage stores. Other contemporary touches include the transparent little snow globes over the bar – after all sever means north in Russian – by artist John Smith, and which playfully contain little sculptures and other odd miniscule objects. The Sever name is daintily captured in Cyrillic neon lettering by artist Egon Kraft, offset by a wall of hand-painted tiles by artist Easy Haze.

And matching Sever’s cool vibe is a creative menu that not only includes the required cocktails, shots and homemade herbal liquors for the party squad, but also various teas served in traditional Russian thermos flasks that are more fitting for daytime socializing. Very soon sever will also serve tasty bites such as sandwiches, a soup of the day and desserts. Mind you, the bar staff consist almost entirely of leading figures from St. Peterburg’s flourishing hipster scene, such as fashion designer Roman Drozdov, Sonic Death singer Arseniy Morozov and multitasking creative Sergey Ius. And as a place high on artistic content, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that cool electronic tunes and alternative 1980s rock beats rule the playlist.

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