An empty plot. Outdoors and a blue sky roof. 2000 m3 of air. A void in between old tall houses. A shaded site, with very little direct sunlight throughout the year. The site becomes the base of a canyon, always shaded, with its own microclimate and untouched ecosystem. The almost perpetual shaded condition turns the local Mediterranean climate into a much northern temperate climate. Sun heat in summer is not a problem. The site is cooler than its latitude would suggest. These ultra-local conditions open up unprecedented possibilities in our territory. An outdoors restaurant in Reus centre, in an empty plot for rent. They want to cook with local ingredients, some grown on site. Their initial desire was to install a food truck, but municipal regulations don’t allow it. A terrace to have a late afternoon drink with your friends or family. They grow their own herbs for drinks. A bar to hang out at night.
BuilderVILELLA CONSTRUCTOR, FUSTES SEBASTIÀ
A temporary, disassemblable restaurant within Reus old city center. The neighbours’ tall partition walls create a cooler microclimate, sheltered from the strong Mestral winds. By building a very small house in the center of the plot, the space around it becomes an open air dining room.
These are the initial strategies we suggested after our diagnose:
1. Air. Seasons, days and nights. The restaurant menu will be seasonal, offering a few dishes which they will master by slight daily improvements through the years.
2. Neighbour walls. Outdoors. Unbuilt space. The 15 meters high walls generate a microclimate that is cooler, more shaded than usual. We take advantage of these specific conditions in order to provide spatial experiences that are not common in our latitudes. We need to find the proper insulation material so the restaurant presence makes our neighbours warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
3. Street walls. When a wall becomes a deep portal. The local laws oblige us to build an opaque façade following some old abstract composition. We turn that into a productive façade to grow vegetables for the restaurant’s salads, aromatic herbs for the bar’s drinks. Its thickness will turn into tables and benches, inside and outside.
4. Homegrown. The herbs and plants that will be planted on site as ingredients for foods and drinks are an active part of balancing this environment, both climatically and with its Mediterranean rough greenery.
5. Light, reversible construction systems. Locally sourced CLT panels and balloon-frame. Wood-fibre insulation.
And therefore our plan:
1. Outdoors gastronomical space.
This place offers a the wide diversity of outdoors eating and cooking possibilities. The tall neighbour houses turn the site into a canyon, with its own ultra-local conditions.
2. Temporality, reversibility and second life.
The plot is rented for fifteen years. This opens two scenarios: One is that the site will need to be vacated, leaving no scars. Therefore it makes sense to think of a fully disassemblable environment, that can be transported and reassembled elsewhere. The other is that the rental contract might be extended, and the restaurant slowly expands in this site.
3. Economy of means.
The budget is quite low. We will implement free, costless materials, such as air, sun and moon light, rain. Then, we need to look for ideas that give you three qualities for the price of one. Part of these will be productive, such as an orchard, fruit trees…
4. Local urban regulations.
The local urban law expects this site to become a housing block. How can we turn it into what we need without breaking the law?
In order to get the maximum outdoors diversity, to facilitate the construction process and to avoid damaging neighbour’s structures, we build an isolated prefabricated timber structure in the middle of the site. It organises the climatic and spatial conditions accordingly to seasonal needs and diverse eating possibilities: inside in winter, outside around the kitchen in spring and autumn, at the terrace in summer… Not only the ingredients are seasonal, also the experience of the restaurant. After presenting the first ideas, the promoters decide they need an indoors kitchen and dining room. So the initial food truck becomes a ‘food hut’, a light, prefabricated timber structure that will be placed in the core of the site. Around it, a terrace, tables with no roof, a narrow open bar…