A “slow food” establishment, the T. Culinary Workshop in Seville, Spain, demonstrates a novel way to heighten its mission of participatory cooking and dining: through architecture. Its intimate design by María González and Juanjo López de la Cruz, of Sol89, uses a series of concentric circular zones within a polygonal ground floor to draw attention to the chef’s activities.
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Formerly a 19th-century warehouse in the city’s Casco Antiguo (Old Town), the restaurant, owned by sibling chefs Ricardo Llinares and Javier R. Llinares, serves only 15 diners each evening, with meals based on locally sourced ingredients. (In addition to developing recipes and conducting gastronomy courses, the workshop also holds wine tastings.)
Visitors arriving at T. Culinary Workshop first encounter a raw masonry facade, with graffiti emblazoned on the old wood doors. The initial unprepossessing appearance heightens the sense of surprise when diners step into a 635-square-foot circular room lined with blond wood. Dominated by a ring-shaped wood dining table and a chef’s work counter under a parasol-like canopy, fashioned of slats of ash wood, the room exudes a sense of warmth.
The dining area is surrounded by a curvilinear structure, also of ash, into which are built the kitchen, storage, and service areas. Beyond this are the exposed brick walls of the original orthogonal space. The architects’ simple gesture of placing these concentric circles within an almost square volume “put the cooking and dining space center stage,” says López de la Cruz.
At the center of the room, a 19th-century iron column, painted white, acts as the linchpin of the new design—much as the central pole of a tent does—with wood spokes spreading out from the stanchion. Cables attached to this armature carry a halo-like white steel lighting fixture that hangs above the dining table, emphasizing the circular theme. The LED fixture atop the chef’s worktop is controlled separately.
The architects collaborated with furniture designers and fabricators Ignacio Sánchez Martín and Nicholas Chandler on crafting the dining table and chef’s work counter. Using found wood from pruning or windfall in the parks or streets such as olive, orange, cypress, black lotus, and other species, the team constructed the table’s seven segments, which can be individually adjusted to different heights, depending on the event. “We collect the wood from rubbish, and then dry it,” says Sánchez Martín, adding that it takes a full year for each 1-inch thickness of wood to cure. Further reinforcing the idea of collaboration, the ceramics studio Kookinja PotMic worked with the design team in creating the tableware.
“In this project, everything is handmade and considered carefully,” Chandler says. “It’s unusual to work with architects who are so willing to listen and to incorporate other people’s visions and ideas.” To simplify construction and keep the budget down, the architects formed the overall ash wood structure from prefabricated parts assembled on-site.
Sol89’s talent for building by listening to and expanding on the expertise of the clients and collaborators afforded this small project its grandeur. “There wasn’t only a functional program, there was also an emotional one,” says López de la Cruz—one where “slow food, slow architecture, and slow timber,” as everyone involved puts it, meet to create a superb setting for T. Culinary Workshop.
María González & Juanjo López de la Cruz
C/ Sol Nº89A, bajo, 41003, Seville, Spain
+34 954 414 938
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
María González & Juanjo López de la Cruz (Architects partners), Elena González & Rosa Gallardo (Architects), Cristóbal Galocha (Quantity surveyor)
Kitchen equipment: Chasa
Wooden furniture: Timber Selection and realisation by Ignacio Sánchez Martín and Nicholas Chandler.
Fdez. Carbonero & Carpintería Manuel e hijos
Masonry: Fdez. Carbonero
Metal frame: Alcar SL. Grupo Inalsa
Glass: Alcar SL. Grupo Inalsa
Metal doors: Fdez. Carbonero
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: Carpintería Manuel e hijos
Paints and stains: Fdez. Carbonero
Wall coverings: Fdez. Carbonero
Paneling: Carpintería Manuel e hijos
Solid surfacing: Concrete flooring, Fdez. Carbonero
Floor and wall tile: Fdez. Carbonero
Chairs: Ignacio Sánchez Martín and Nicholas Chandler.
Tables: Ignacio Sánchez Martín and Nicholas Chandler, designed with Sol89
Kitchen equipment: Chasa
Interior ambient lighting: Fdez. Carbonero, designed by Sol89
Dimming system or other lighting controls: Fdez. Carbonero