June 24, 2015

Just For Starters: Maio’s Bar Nou Delights the Senses

Light and fresh, a daily pleasure. That describes pa amb tomàquet, the essential Catalonian tapas made with toast, diced tomatoes, and top-shelf olive oil, generously dosed with garlic and salt. The description applies equally well to Barcelona’s Bar Nou—not only as simple as a staple but also a delight for the senses. For that, credit goes to Maio, a quartet of emerging architects consisting of María Charneco, Alfredo Lérida, Guil­lermo López, and Anna Puigjaner.

Bar Nou’s location is prominent, just off an avenue connecting two major squares, and the 1,600-square-foot storefront is part of a typical 19th-century block. To draw the eyes of passersby, the windows display playful neon pictographs of a wineglass, a carafe, a tomato, and a loaf of bread, all based on illustrations by a Dutch phenom. And visible right behind the neon, touching the glass, is something even more intriguing, the plywood exterior of vaults suspended, in a row, from the ceiling. It’s a backstage view of what, for guests seated below the vaults, becomes a lighthearted, lightweight riff on the arches of Spanish vernacular architecture. “The ceiling system creates a feeling of domesticity without interrupting sight lines,” Puigjaner says.

Pine, which surfaces the inside of the vaults, wraps the tapas prep station as well. Standing right at the entry, this half-cylinder topped in marble is a veritable altar of tapas. “Besides being a typical Catalan kitchen material, marble is often used in churches,” Lérida explains. As the tomato-and-bread makers conduct their ceremony, the arched mirrors and steel lamps heighten the ecclesiastical effect.

Furniture brings a traditional flavor to contemporary forms. Chairs, for example, have stripped-down steel frames laquered a zippy yellow. However, the seats are woven bulrushes, a Mediterranean classic like the tapas assembled nearby.

Project Team
Jordi Ter: General Contractor. 

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