November 1, 2018

Mecanismo’s Minimalist Vision for Akelarre Hotel in San Sebastián Relies on Spanish Materials

Just south of the Franco-Spanish border lies San Sebastián, a picturesque Basque city known for fine dining. One of its beloved spots is Akelarre, chef Pedro Subijana’s Michelin–starred restaurant. It’s been a decade-long dream of his to open a hotel of a similar caliber. That came to fruition when, through word of mouth, he met architects Pedro Rica, 30, and Marta Urtasun, 32, who, after graduating from Universidad CEU San Pablo, founded their own firm in 2012. Called Mecanismo, Spanish for mechanism, the studio focuses on a “profound interest in materials and a careful execution of ideas,” Urtasun explains.

A Jaume Plensa sculpture stands amid oak planks and phyllite in a guest-room corridor. Photography by Enrique Palacio.

Subijana’s dishes are built around the best regional ingredients—and so is Mecanismo’s ground-up Akelarre Hotel, which adjoins the restaurant. Inside and out centers on precision-cut Spanish phyllite, a slate-textured black metamorphic rock injected with gray veining and mica grains that lend a subtle sheen. 

Antonio Citterio chairs join a custom banquette in the lobby lounge. Photography by Enrique Palacio.

Another reoccurring material is oak, used for the hotel’s walls, floors, and custom furniture. The 22-key property stretches across five two-story volumes totaling 53,000 square feet, each cube angled to maximize views of the Bay of Biscay and the Cantabrian Sea beyond. But if the architecture is a study in neo-brutalist minimalism, the interior is a modernist-inflected mash-up—note the lobby’s Alexander Calder-esque pendant fixtures and Antonio Citterio wicker-back chairs. “Thanks to globalization,” Rica notes, “design has become more eclectic.” Adds Urtasun, “But we always strive for timelessness.”

A suite’s plunge pool overlooks the Bay of Biscay and the Canta­brian Sea beyond. Photography by Enrique Palacio.
The same stone clads the hotel’s exterior. Photography by Enrique Palacio.
Weathering steel defines a staircase. Photography by Enrique Palacio.
Studio Massaud designed the sofa in a guest room. Photography by Enrique Palacio.
The wine cellar holds 3,000 bottles. Photography by Enrique Palacio.
Sheltered balconies are accessed by sliding glass doors framed in oak. Photography by Enrique Palacio.

> See more from the November 2018 issue of Interior Design

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