ROBERT ARLT architect

el columpio

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Spanish for “swing,” the goal for El Columpio is to instill cultural connections between food, form, and place beyond cliche sombreros and neon colors. This needed to happen on a site the owner’s purchased off the interstate planned for more suburban strip malls and chain restaurants. The effort began with introducing the unfamiliar element of cabana swings and connecting it with a familiar Midwest narrative: a simple wooden plank swing suspended from a large tree in the yard.

Research of ancient ornament, form, and pattern from William Holmes’ 1895, Archaeological Studies from the Ancient Cities of Mexico inspired a proposal not to replicate but transform familiar cues of Mexican history while adapting the volume and materiality of local barns using modern day building materials vigorously detailed.

The oxidized, red steel over stone base figure found in the landscape across the Midwest is adapted into a skin of cor-ten steel over a running bond fiber cement lower volume with an extruded glass cubic form signifying entry. The massing utilizes a diagonal ridge line instead of gambrel but maintains an exposed wooden ceiling structure. The single volume adjusts to programmatic needs and the form is notched with space extracted to create exterior patios, including an upper patio further articulated by an abrupt transition into tiered, aluminum louvers.

The terraced form deliberately looks to the robust ziggurat form of Mayan temples but reinterprets it as a thin, rigorously detailed device allowing views from entry while mediating views from the upper patio space and the neighboring context.

*Work completed with another Architect