Rising to a total height of 15 meters, the ‘madero café’ appears as a monolithic red object next to one of the most heavily trafficked highways in guatemala city. the restaurant’s otherwise neutral exterior is punctured only with protruding cars, which appear to have collided with the giant cube. the façade serves as a roadside landmark, designed to amuse drivers as they zoom by or sit stationary in a traffic jam.
however, it’s inside the eatery where the project comes to life. conceived by taller KEN, the project’s vibrant interior is layered with textures and colors, forming an oasis-like escape from the outside world. ‘this project mines local patterns, materials and textures and collects them to make a fresh tropical atmosphere,’ explains the design team.
the central space is illuminated by sawtooth skylights, while rainwater from the roof is collected in blue tanks and is used to maintain the tropical planting. meanwhile, a custom-made concrete tile has been used for the flooring with a seemingly random pattern that serves as a wayfinding guide — allowing people to circulate around the service core of kitchen and bathrooms, and explore the café’s various quirks.
conceived as a ‘greenhouse’, the diner is open-air with no glass partition separating it from the adjacent walkways. the exterior features custom operable folding shutters comprised of steel panels inter-woven with dowels. this façade clads the majority of the building, giving the impression of a unified whole when seen from all sides.