New York City-based Studio Cadena has recently completed Masa, a new restaurant in a northern residential neighborhood of Bogotá, Colombia. The restaurant is built at residential scale, on the site of a former house that had gone through multiple residential and commercial iterations over the years. This is the second and largest space that Studio Cadena has designed for Masa, the first, also in Bogotá, is a smaller cafe that opened in 2014.
The 7,500 square-foot restaurant is organized as a grouping of distinct but interconnected volumes, each with a particular function. At one corner sits a cafe and bakery, which flows into central entrance area that is adjacent to a dining volume and separate retail space. An outdoor patio space provides garden seating and connects the public spaces to the kitchen in the rear.
Elements such as a long concrete bar, cylindrical woodclad service station, and a multitiered seating platform at the entrance serve to modulate the space. “The idea is that everything is connected, but the spaces remain fragmented for intimacy,” says Studio Cadena founder and principal Benjamin Cadena about his design. “In any space in the restaurant you might hear or smell things that give a sense of the adjacent spaces, but it isn’t completely open. The design defines distinct spatial volumes yet allows you to move through them with the freedom of an open plan.”
From the exterior, the triangular cutout windows and entry open the facade to the street, meeting the life of the sidewalk and revealing the life within the restaurant. The geometric windows, including a large circular window that looks into the garden from the kitchen, adds to the playful, graphic quality of the space’s indooroutdoor language.
“This project’s indooroutdoor continuity is intentional, but presents a challenge in Bogotá, where the weather is perennial spring or fall, and can be cold, chilly, or wet,” says Cadena. “In this case we wanted to be sure that you could always feel the presence of what’s being made here, and that the space remained open to itself and to the street, and was inviting to the city.”
A playfulness continues in the surfaces, fixtures and furniture, all designed by Studio Cadena. Distinct sculptural lighting designs serve to distinguish the different volumes – large paper globes light the corner café, while handpainted metal mesh hung from the ceiling catches the natural light in the middle volume. A unique floor made from large, handcast terrazzo tiles embedded within traditional terrazzo covers the interior public spaces. The walls are made of textured, castinplace concrete.
These elements are born of an interest in updating techniques commonly used in Bogotá (such as terrazzo) as well as introducing new ones that are unique to the area all part of a loose, crossreferential design context, and a restaurant that requires minimal branding. “The strategy from a design standpoint was that the building does the work,” says Cadena.
This year Studio Cadena won the annual Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition hosted by the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District (BID) and Van Alen Institute. The installation, selected out of seven other proposals, features 23 softly shaped transparent vinyl screens that drape down from an open frame to inscribe an intimate collective space and provide an analog filter to see the city in a different light.