Al Modar Founders Pavilion by Taco

Al Modar Founders Pavilion is a lovely restaurant designed in 2021 by Taco located in Mérida, Mexico.

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The Pabellón Fundadores (Al Modar) is the result of an architectural intervention to an existing building to transform it into a multi-faceted space adapted to a restaurant use. The objective was to achieve a casual, fresh and relaxed meeting place where users could live a sensory experience through coffee, food, nature, the built environment and social interaction.

The pre-existing building was a small 50m2 rural house located on one of the corners containing the foundational plaza of Cholul, a community of pre-Hispanic origin belonging to the city of Merida, in the southeast of Mexico. It received a modification 25 years ago, in which the original roof and openings were lost. The current project proposed the demolition of the added slabs and the recovery of the original structure of the stone masonry walls, which were reinforced to support a reinforced concrete barrel vault at double height over the main entrance that extends the covered area, as well as a flat slab over the service area that supports an open terrace at the top, from which a new way of appreciating the public square is generated. The overlapping of the slabs generates a north-facing window that evacuates hot air, introduces light and frames the view of the treetops. Both the vault and the murals on the façade, made from the scraping of layers of paint that have been applied during its history, refer to the vault and murals characteristic of the 16th century church catalogued as a Historic Monument that is located in front of it.

Due to sanitary regulations, 85% of the tables are outdoors. These are distributed between the back patio and the elevated terrace. The interior space is cross-ventilated and consists of a small dining area, the service bar, restrooms, and storage and support areas.

The materiality retakes the practicality, warmth and simplicity that characterizes Yucatecan rural architecture. The stucco was preserved and restored with paint on the original walls. The lower bed of the vault exhibits the concrete of its structure with a coat of the same off-white paint as the rest of the building, while on the exterior of the vault a burnished stucco with integrated pigment in the same tone was applied, also applied to the frames of the recovered openings. The interior floors are made of white concrete with ecocrete joints to release moisture from the floor. The elevated terrace and staircase were paved with anti-skid hammered concrete and the backyard was leveled with local permeable gravel. Similarly, ironwork elements were used with encapsulated oxide, stainless steel, apparent concrete latticework, local stone railings, transparent and yellow silk-screened glass. Regional cedar and tzalam hardwoods were used for doors and tables (respectively) and the chairs were considered white plastic.

The landscaping is an interpretation of the aesthetics of the Mayan plots that stimulates the senses. The plant proposal dignifies the pre-existing trees and is consolidated by means of concrete pots, produced locally, with endemic vegetation, benches attached to the walls and a water garden with a recirculating fountain.

Photography by Leo Espinosa

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- by Matt Watts