Contract - Mexico City Materialism: Entasis makes a timeless design statement with OCA restaurant

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Mexico City Materialism: Entasis makes a timeless design statement with OCA restaurant

20 December, 2010

-By Michael Webb


OCA is a supernova in the constellation of Polanco, which has become the place to go in Mexico City for fashionable stores, cool bars, and fine dining. Over the past decade, this neighborhood has boomed and its best restaurants rival those of the United States and Europe in quality and originality. Entasis Arquitectos, a partnership of Alejandro de la Vega and Ricardo Warman, has designed several of these culinary treasures, including Terrasse Renault, Biko, and a restaurant for the Cordon Bleu cookery school within a mansion that was formerly the French Consulate. Pared-down elegance is the design firm’s signature, and OCA may be its finest achievement to date.

“I wanted an open, airy space that was as pure and audacious as the cuisine I planned to serve,” says OCA owner Karen Wix, who commissioned Entasis after lunching at Biko. That restaurant occupies the upper floor of a mixed-use block, and it feels entirely new: a sybaritic, soft-toned space in which sun and streetlights are filtered through tilted slats of blond wood. The OCA site presented a different challenge. Brick houses of the 1940s had been repeatedly altered and extended to serve as commercial premises. The building had lost most of its original character and had become a warren of tiny rooms on three levels. “It was total chaos, and our immediate impulse was to tear it open and give it lungs to breathe,” says Warman. The client agreed to this radical surgery, so they gutted the interior down to the brick party walls and cut away the concrete slabs of the two upper floors to create an inner patio. This was covered with a retractable canvas awning, set at an angle to shed rain into a gutter. In hot weather the canopy and the glass sliders along the street front can be opened to allow cross-ventilation. The slate-paved patio is also inclined so that, during the rainy season, any stray leaks drain into a side channel.

The façade and the interior of OCA clearly signal that this is an adventurous restaurant, with high tabs and a prima donna Spanish chef. The street front is stone-clad with full glazing above; the entry and signage are reticent. A partition of ash beams, pierced with small square openings, divides the entry foyer and the patio bar. A slatted screen of ash encloses a private dining room, and the kitchen occupies what was once a garage, with a dumb waiter to carry dishes up to the diners. Black steel plates, tilted at a five-degree angle, extend up the rear wall and across the ceiling, contrasting with the rough-textured stripped brick to the side. Steel beams were concealed behind the plates, adding resilience to a building that already had been reinforced with concrete beams to meet Mexico’s tough seismic code.

The dining areas that extend around two sides of the void are enclosed by a lattice of creepers that rise from planters and are supported on a grid of steel cables. This green tracery softens the transition between interior and street and complements the hard surfaces of steel, slate, and brick. “Our goal was to create interesting perspectives, vertically and horizontally,” says Alejandro de la Vega. “The building was large enough that we could sacrifice some floor space to give guests eye contact with each other at different levels, enriching their dining experience.”

Entasis designed most of the custom-made furniture, including the elegant ash dining chairs and bar stools and the glass wine cabinet on the second floor. Broad ash floorboards complement the steel plates that define the wall booths and are bent to form benches, topped with leather cushions. Pin spots and tiny suspended lights provide dramatic accents. Forks impaled in a wood wall panel add a decorative flourish, but OCA’s success derives from its rigor, using a few materials in a consistent way and avoiding extraneous elements. A century ago, Adolf Loos wrote that “ornament is crime,” while creating some of the most sensuous and timeless interiors of his day. He would applaud these designers as his spiritual heirs.

who
Project: OCA restaurant. Architect: Entasis Arquitectos; Alejandro De La Vega Zulueta, Ricardo Warman. Construction: Proyectos Y Construcciones Condesa Sa de CV Oscar Mandujano, Juan Lopez. Contractor: Guillermo Lopez, Oscar Lopez, nrique Bernal, Antonio, Mukul, Juan Carlos Del Val, Juan Garcia, Antonio Hernandez, Guy Tixidor, Juan Planas, Fernando Ortiz Monasterio. Kitchen: Casa Lux. Lighting: Jorge Zinser, Marco Gongora, Pedro Garza. Photographer: Jaime Navarro.

what
Ash wood: Maderas Finas. Glass: Val & Val, Hawa AG. Black Slate: Natural Stones Limited, Green Slate Mining. Light fixtures: Casa Lux, Zannusi. Wood/steel furniture: custom by Entaisis Architects. Chimney: Hergom.

where
Polanco, Mexico.



Mexico City Materialism: Entasis makes a timeless design statement with OCA restaurant

20 December, 2010


Jaime Navarro

OCA is a supernova in the constellation of Polanco, which has become the place to go in Mexico City for fashionable stores, cool bars, and fine dining. Over the past decade, this neighborhood has boomed and its best restaurants rival those of the United States and Europe in quality and originality. Entasis Arquitectos, a partnership of Alejandro de la Vega and Ricardo Warman, has designed several of these culinary treasures, including Terrasse Renault, Biko, and a restaurant for the Cordon Bleu cookery school within a mansion that was formerly the French Consulate. Pared-down elegance is the design firm’s signature, and OCA may be its finest achievement to date.

“I wanted an open, airy space that was as pure and audacious as the cuisine I planned to serve,” says OCA owner Karen Wix, who commissioned Entasis after lunching at Biko. That restaurant occupies the upper floor of a mixed-use block, and it feels entirely new: a sybaritic, soft-toned space in which sun and streetlights are filtered through tilted slats of blond wood. The OCA site presented a different challenge. Brick houses of the 1940s had been repeatedly altered and extended to serve as commercial premises. The building had lost most of its original character and had become a warren of tiny rooms on three levels. “It was total chaos, and our immediate impulse was to tear it open and give it lungs to breathe,” says Warman. The client agreed to this radical surgery, so they gutted the interior down to the brick party walls and cut away the concrete slabs of the two upper floors to create an inner patio. This was covered with a retractable canvas awning, set at an angle to shed rain into a gutter. In hot weather the canopy and the glass sliders along the street front can be opened to allow cross-ventilation. The slate-paved patio is also inclined so that, during the rainy season, any stray leaks drain into a side channel.

The façade and the interior of OCA clearly signal that this is an adventurous restaurant, with high tabs and a prima donna Spanish chef. The street front is stone-clad with full glazing above; the entry and signage are reticent. A partition of ash beams, pierced with small square openings, divides the entry foyer and the patio bar. A slatted screen of ash encloses a private dining room, and the kitchen occupies what was once a garage, with a dumb waiter to carry dishes up to the diners. Black steel plates, tilted at a five-degree angle, extend up the rear wall and across the ceiling, contrasting with the rough-textured stripped brick to the side. Steel beams were concealed behind the plates, adding resilience to a building that already had been reinforced with concrete beams to meet Mexico’s tough seismic code.

The dining areas that extend around two sides of the void are enclosed by a lattice of creepers that rise from planters and are supported on a grid of steel cables. This green tracery softens the transition between interior and street and complements the hard surfaces of steel, slate, and brick. “Our goal was to create interesting perspectives, vertically and horizontally,” says Alejandro de la Vega. “The building was large enough that we could sacrifice some floor space to give guests eye contact with each other at different levels, enriching their dining experience.”

Entasis designed most of the custom-made furniture, including the elegant ash dining chairs and bar stools and the glass wine cabinet on the second floor. Broad ash floorboards complement the steel plates that define the wall booths and are bent to form benches, topped with leather cushions. Pin spots and tiny suspended lights provide dramatic accents. Forks impaled in a wood wall panel add a decorative flourish, but OCA’s success derives from its rigor, using a few materials in a consistent way and avoiding extraneous elements. A century ago, Adolf Loos wrote that “ornament is crime,” while creating some of the most sensuous and timeless interiors of his day. He would applaud these designers as his spiritual heirs.

who
Project: OCA restaurant. Architect: Entasis Arquitectos; Alejandro De La Vega Zulueta, Ricardo Warman. Construction: Proyectos Y Construcciones Condesa Sa de CV Oscar Mandujano, Juan Lopez. Contractor: Guillermo Lopez, Oscar Lopez, nrique Bernal, Antonio, Mukul, Juan Carlos Del Val, Juan Garcia, Antonio Hernandez, Guy Tixidor, Juan Planas, Fernando Ortiz Monasterio. Kitchen: Casa Lux. Lighting: Jorge Zinser, Marco Gongora, Pedro Garza. Photographer: Jaime Navarro.

what
Ash wood: Maderas Finas. Glass: Val & Val, Hawa AG. Black Slate: Natural Stones Limited, Green Slate Mining. Light fixtures: Casa Lux, Zannusi. Wood/steel furniture: custom by Entaisis Architects. Chimney: Hergom.

where
Polanco, Mexico.
 


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