Occupying a corner location in a northern residential neighborhood of Bogota, Colombia, Masa is a new restaurant that stands out in its simple yet bold, graphical playfulness. Conceived by New York and Bogota-based architecture practice Studio Cadena as a series of distinct but interconnected striated volumes, marked by triangular cutouts of different sizes, the building is a sculptural tour de force that nevertheless respects the area’s low-rise residential scale.
From the exterior, the building, standing on a terracotta base, appears as three concrete cubic volumes of different sizes each one housing a different function: a café in the corner, a reception and bakery in the middle and a restaurant on the side. Apart from a separate retail space, all the other spaces flow into one another. “The idea is that everything is connected, but the spaces remain fragmented for intimacy”, architect Benjamin Cadena explains. “The design defines distinct spatial volumes yet allows you to move through them with the freedom of an open plan.” This freedom of movement also extends to a large outdoors patio in the back of the building, which becomes an extension of the restaurant area during the summer months.
Both the exterior and the interior design are based on a graphic language of geometrical playfulness, underpinned by the predominance of triangular and circular shapes. While the triangular cutouts on the facades allow the interior to be thoroughly day lit and ensure that “the space remains open to itself and to the street, and inviting to the city”, they also establish a strong visual identity—most notably by spelling out the letter M, a clever reference to the restaurant’s name, Masa.
The triangular windows enveloping the space are complemented by a plethora of circles, from larger elements such as the circular coffee-shop counter, the cylindrical timber-clad service station and the large circular window that looks out onto the garden from the kitchen, to smaller furnishings like cylindrical concrete planters, round tables and paper light globes. These elements are part of a whimsical repertoire of fixtures, furniture and surfaces, all designed by Studio Cadena, which animate the venue without crowding it or turning it into a themed zone.
The striated texture of the in-situ concrete shell is counterbalanced by the organic shapes of the hand-cast terrazzo tiles embedded into the terrazzo floor, inspired by a technique commonly used in Bogotá, while the exposed concrete of the columns, counters and planters is juxtaposed with the smoothness of the timber furnishings. This kind of geometrical and material dialectics is further explored in the central area, where a multi-tiered seating platform of polished timber, complete with circular cutouts and embedded planters, stands underneath a hand-painted metal mesh curvaceous installation that filters the daylight flooding in from the skylight above. It’s all part of Studio Cadena’s clever cross-referential design concept that creates a distinct brand without any actual branding.