Khrystyna Badzian and shades of old wood. Sadolin: Careful, it's painted!

/ Interior /

We are continuing our series of interviews with leading Ukrainian designers and architects called "Beware of the paint!". For more than a year and a half, the project has been published with the support of Sadolin, a manufacturer of the highest quality paints.

Our new heroine is the architect Khrystyna Badzian. Together with her husband Dmytro Sorokevych, she founded Replus Bureau, a company based in Lviv and London. Khrystyna also created Restare, an architectural salvage workshop that preserves and restores authentic elements, vintage furniture and decor. The team collects old tiles, doors, windows, locks, chairs, cabinets where they are no longer needed, and sometimes just finds them in landfills. Everything is cleaned, repaired, restored and given a new life.

Khrystyna considers promoting respect for antiquity to be her own cultural mission. When working with modern projects, Replus integrates expressive authentic elements into them. This approach has become one of the company's trademarks.

Khrystyna Badzian, architect, founder of Replus Bureau and Restare architectural salvage workshop

Rocking horse

I was born and raised in Lviv in a middle-class family. My mother has a degree in trade and economics, in modern language she can be called a marketer. My father has worked at the railroad all his life. He has golden hands and is a talented craftsman - a locksmith and welder. He has also always had a flair for construction. He built the house where our family lived himself. He also built a bathhouse and a whole complex with a small swimming pool.

The construction theme has been familiar to me since childhood. This helped when I started visiting construction sites as an architect. Besides, I could always consult my father.

At school, I loved math and especially geometry. I was also fond of drawing, but it was just a hobby. I didn't dream of architecture because until a certain time I didn't know that such a profession existed. There were no creative people in my family or immediate environment, let alone architects.

Promin pizzeria in Lviv. Photo: Andriy Bezuglov

I didn't dream of architecture, because until some time ago I didn't know that such a profession existed

Arbre de la liberté

In the ninth grade, a few of my classmates and I were sent to France on an exchange program. There I lived for a week in the city of Lille with an architect's family. He gave me a tour of his office. It surprised me that there was some kind of unusual work where people draw something intricate while standing behind stumps.

When I graduated from high school, lawyers, economists, and bankers were popular professions. My parents also guided me along this path. I passed the entrance exams to one of Lviv's academies right after the preparatory courses. It was April, and I had the whole summer ahead of me. One day I was invited for a walk by a friend who was dating a guy a few years older. He took us to see the architecture department where he studied. My eyes just opened. I remembered an architect's office in France and realized that this is what I want to do in my life.

My parents were categorically against it. They believed that girls do not study architecture and that I would not find a job afterwards. It helped that I already had a plan A - I had passed the banking exams, so they let me try. My parents gave me $150 to hire a drawing and drafting tutor. In two months, I was ready and entered on a budget. My mom and dad resigned themselves: they asked their friends and learned that the Middle Ages were over and girls were entering architecture. They decided that at the very least I would work as an interior designer, which already seemed like a more acceptable option.

Sakae Ramen Bar in Lviv. Photo: Andriy Bezuglov

Sequoia evergreen

In my second year of study, I went to the United States for four months on a Work&Travel program. Together with my girlfriend, we worked at McDonald's and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

First, I was impressed by the automation of processes and corporate rules of these companies. For example, the fact that when there are no customers, the cashier does not stand still, but has to clean the cash register, move the furniture and wash it, and do something else around it.

To be on time, we woke up at 4:30 and arrived at the office at six in the morning. By nine, we were at our peak productivity

Secondly, I earned money. I paid off the trip, bought a laptop, and had some money left over for pocket money. And most importantly, I came back motivated. I realized that if I can make money at McDonald's, I can do it at a more skilled job. Then I started looking for something in my specialty.

Starting from my third year, I managed to work in several architectural studios. The last one was Chaplinsky & Partners, where I headed the interior department.

Split nightclub in Lviv. Photo: Andriy Bezuglov

The first sprouts

When my husband and I started our own bureau, we both already had a lot of experience. It was extremely stressful to start. We were most worried that there would be no orders or that they would be small and uninteresting requests. We gave ourselves a deadline of two months to see if it was realistic for us. Our "airbag," the 15 thousand hryvnias left over from the wedding, was on the shelf. We bought a computer and rented our first office. It was a one-room apartment where, besides us, there was a colleague who was starting his own business, as well as one senior architect who came from time to time. I decided that if the work didn't work out, I would enroll in a testers' course and retrain in IT.

Khrystyna Badzian, architect, founder of Replus Bureau and Restare architectural salvage workshop

The first client was brought by our contractor - he needed to design a roof. Later, the entire building and a large interior were added to the roof. Then two more clients came with large reconstruction projects. For the first year, Dmytro and I worked together. We made drawings and visualizations ourselves and conducted field supervision, which was essentially a general contract. One of the objects was a reconstruction, where workers were not allowed to swear, smoke or wear yesterday's stale uniform. We visited the construction site every day and controlled everything.

To be on time, we woke up at 4:30 and arrived at the office at six in the morning. By nine, we were at our maximum productivity, and then we started making calls and visiting sites. The number of clients was growing. It was time to recruit people to the team and move to a larger office.

The Siaivo bar in Lviv. Photo: Andriy Bezuglov

Carved doors

From the very beginning, we had a lot of objects in the old fund. Apartments, a nightclub, several restaurants. We love reconstruction, and most of all, when the premises are old and complex.

Our office is currently located in a 1914 building designed by Karel Bowblick on Soborna Square in Lviv. It is a former pharmacist's apartment located above the Pharmacy Museum. The building has survived without much intervention or repair. It has authentic stucco moldings and classic doors with carvings and decorative moldings.

One day I thought about the fact that we can design modern doors, rectangular, tall and elegant, for our facilities in three seconds. But if the customer needs classic proportions, similar to our old doors, it will be a challenge. I was looking at all these cross-sections, details and curls and realized how much skill and experience they have. They were created in the days when a carpenter passed down his planes and mills to his children. It's the same with metal gates or classic parquet.

We love reconstruction, and most of all, when the premises are old and complex

In our office, the parquet boards have wood inlay in three shades. If I wanted to install such parquet in one of our projects now, it would be unrealistic money, and it was also expensive before. In addition, it is worth considering that the parquet was laid at a time when there was no electric lighting in the house. We need to preserve these old elements, at least until we learn how to do it as well.

At some point, I realized that I didn't know anything about classical proportions. To close this gap, I took a course on the history of Lviv taught by architectural researcher Tetiana Kazantseva. She talks so freely and humorously about the beauty of abandoned, shabby houses that you start to love them too.

Ms. Tetyana emphasized the golden rule: if a house was built before 1930, you should rub the wall with a spatula before you strip everything to the ground: you will most likely find old paintings. If the walls were not upholstered to the brick during previous repairs, the paintings should be preserved. Right after the lecture, I checked it out in our office. There were murals in every room.

An antique wardrobe from OLX in the apartment of Khrystyna Badzian and Dmytro Sorokevych in Lviv. Photo: Andriy Bezuglov

Buy antique furniture cheap OLX

I have a great respect for authenticity. We changed our approach to working with the old fund. Now, if we needed to dismantle the original parquet at a facility, we didn't throw it away. The same with bricks, doors, and moldings. We collected and stored everything that was of high quality and value in the garage to use it later in other projects. Our master contractors also called if something like this was thrown away at any of their sites. I hired a separate person, a housekeeper. When my friends sent me a photo of another dumpster, I called him: "Mr. Mykhailo, two doors have been thrown away on Saksahanskoho Street. Go there."

Replus Bureau's best projects to date, such as the Lviv Municipal Center, are a mix of old and new. For example, in our own apartment, a Bulthaup kitchen with aluminum facades stands next to a cabinet from the beginning of the last century that I found on OLX. The cabinet has a wooden church cross on it, left over from the apartment's previous tenants.

If the house was built before 1930, it is worth rubbing the wall with a spatula: you will most likely find old paintings

Very soon we found out that the amount of authentic things that people throw away in Lviv is much larger than we need for our facilities. After all, we primarily create modern design, where authentic elements only become accents. We quickly filled two garages and the attic above our apartment with vintage. At one point, I couldn't remember what we had where.

So two years ago I created the Restare workshop. This is a separate company that collects and restores furniture, doors, tiles, and other authentic elements that were left in old Lviv houses and are no longer needed. We study these things, clean them, repair them, sell them, and send them to a new life.

Lviv Municipal Art Center. Photo: Andriy Bezuglov


I was confused by the fact that older people are mostly involved in the preservation of historical property. They are the only ones who understand what is worthwhile and what is not, and which items should not be touched at all. To change the stereotype, I decided to research these issues myself and popularize respect for the old. Because today, with all the modern equipment and technologies, we are still far from the level of quality that we had a hundred years ago.

For example, it is now impossible to order a three-meter-high wooden door. All machines are designed for 2.7 meters. It is a super difficult task to make a door taller so that it doesn't wobble or twist. But a hundred years ago, this was done with high quality, and all the processes were well established. Those doors still stand in Austrian and Polish townhouses.

At the beginning of Copernicus Street in Lviv, there is a national bank building. The plaster on its walls is more than a hundred years old, and it does not lack anything - there is not a single crack on the facade. The layer of plaster is two centimeters thick, and it shines a little in the sun because mica was added to the mixture.

At my first job, one of the projects was a functionalist house. The client wanted to recreate the traditional look of the facade and cover it with plaster using the old technology.

In our apartment, a Bulthaup kitchen with aluminum facades stands next to a wardrobe from the beginning of the last century

What a great idea! I went to the library and it was silent. I called Tatiana Kazantseva, who taught me in my first year. She said it was unrealistic because people write their dissertations trying to guess such recipes. The composition itself can be found out by examining a piece of plaster under a microscope at a research institute. But the technology is also important - whether the surface needs to be wet after four hours, or wiped, or sprinkled with sand. How exactly to mix, at what temperature-there are a lot of things to consider.

When the Soviet government came to Lviv, everything that belonged to Poland and Austria-Hungary was labeled bad. Documents containing those recipes and technologies were simply collected and burned. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the bureau of Ivan Levynskyi, perhaps the most prominent local architect of the time, worked in Lviv. He had a carpentry shop, a glass shop, a metal shop, a ceramic shop, and a brick-making workshop. And today you would like to make such high-quality bricks, but there is no recipe, the technology is lost, and there is no one to ask.

The apartment of Khrystyna Badzian and Dmytro Sorokevych in Lviv. Photo: Andriy Bezuglov

London plane trees

I first came to London in 2017 and immediately had a dream of having an office there. At first, it seemed unattainable, but in January 2022, Dmitry and I went to London again and decided that there was no need to wait - we needed to register a company there and start moving somehow. The documents stating that our company was opened and entered into the general register came on February 23.

On February 24, we were in a complete stupor - we didn't know if the profession of an architect was even needed anymore, we gathered in the office, bought pneumatics, knives and gas canisters. Our team consists of 20 people, it's a cool and powerful team that needed to be preserved.

That's when I realized that we hadn't started that company in London for nothing, we had to leave. Together with four female architects from the bureau, we first went to Budapest to apply for British visas, because mine had just expired. My four-year-old daughter and my mother came with me to help with the little one.

I would like to see universal houses, just like cars or smartphones

Friends found us temporary housing in Budapest, as well as an office where we could come to work. In March, we started writing to local architects, going to meet them and selling ourselves as a bureau. If we had been looking for work separately, as four individual architects, we would have found jobs in one day.

We went around to all the Budapest architectural firms and got an order for a lobby project for the bank. It was like candy for a crying child: we calmed down a bit and believed that everything would work out. We negotiated two more projects, but it was important to be present there. We got our visas and moved on.

The apartment of Khrystyna Badzian and Dmytro Sorokevych in Lviv. Photo: Andriy Bezuglov

In London, we followed the same path: we wrote letters to ten architectural firms whose contacts we found on ArchDaily. Of course, Norman Foster's studio was among them, but we got a response from a lesser-known bureau. The architect treated us favorably and introduced us to his colleagues, so we got enough contacts.

We met, showed our projects, and made sure that we were on the same level. The scale of our work may differ, but the level of execution, fundamental decisions, and budgets are quite comparable. I finally got rid of the complexes that architects in London work according to some other rules that we don't know. Their drawings are also in millimeters, they work in Autocad and SketchUp, and in an informal conversation it turned out that their problems with contractors are the same as ours.

Now every month, together with some of my colleagues, I go to London for two weeks. We have properties there, including two apartments and the Mriya restaurant created by the famous chef Yuriy Kovryzhenko. In addition, we are negotiating a small sports complex for paddle tennis. This is a new popular sport - something like backyard tennis without rules.

I want to create projects that will compete at the first level. Not to copy someone else, but to design in such a way that someone else would want to copy our idea

Sign on the pub

London won me over with its respect for tradition. It's a city where you can see a pub with a sign dating back to 1680. There are street names carved in stone on the facades of houses, and they are never renamed. I like the pipes outside the houses, the black facades and fences, the left-hand traffic, the separate taps for cold and hot water. The most striking thing is that none of this is being replaced with something new and more convenient. If those two taps work and you have learned how to use them, why change them?

For me, London is the capital where design is created. All the big architectural studios have offices in London. All the rich people want to buy housing there.

We used to look at some new ideas on the Internet and wanted to implement them here in Lviv. But now I want to create projects that will compete at that first level. Not to copy someone else, but to design in such a way that someone else would want to copy our idea.

Khrystyna Badzian, architect, founder of Replus Bureau and Restare architectural salvage workshop

Bonsai houses

Sometimes I get the feeling that many people, like bots, are working on the same projects and solving the same problems in different countries and different cities in parallel. Especially when it comes to private housing.

When people come to us to design a house, the request sounds something like this: a large living room, a bedroom with a wardrobe, a large bathroom, all with windows, a bedroom for each child, and another guest bedroom. This is a universal formula for comfortable housing. None of our clients has ever asked us for something completely different. For example, to make a darkroom and all rooms without windows in the house.

Summer house of the OSLW House project near Lviv. Photo: Andriy Bezuglov

I wish architects didn't have to design the same thing over and over again. I wish there were universal buildings, like cars or smartphones. Because the iPhone is suitable for so many people, Madonna has one, the mayor has one, and I have one, even though we are all different people with different incomes, it covers the needs of each of us. It's the same with cars - in a certain class, you choose between several models and don't want to build yourself a completely different car from scratch. I would like to see universal "iPhone homes" that would satisfy a large number of people. I would like to see a certain number of such solutions on the market, and you could just call and order a house. And when it is worn out, it is easy to dismantle it and bring a new one.

We create modern design where authentic elements become accents

There have been many similar ideas in the history of architecture, and Le Corbusier worked in this direction. Perhaps artificial intelligence will help us put this into practice. I would like to take part in the training of this artificial intelligence.


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