How this clever watercolour design by Pritzker Prize winners RCR Arquitectes became Albert Adrià’s new restaurant Enigma

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Engima restaurant in Barcelona- photo by Pau Llimona courtesy of RCR Arquitectes
Engima restaurant in Barcelona- photo by Pau Llimona courtesy of RCR Arquitectes

Ferran and Albert Adrià, the brothers behind the legendary elBulli restaurant, are among Spain’s most prominent creatives.

So, when Albert came to create his new, avant-garde restaurant, Enigma, he called on another prominent Spanish partnership, the 2017 Pritzker Prize-winners RCR Arquitectes.

Drawing on both Adrià’s artful approach and their own creative working practices RCR painted a watercolour plan for Enigma’s futuristic-looking interiors.

 

Enigma restaurant, Barcelona - Engima restaurant in Barcelona - photo by Pau Llimona courtesy of RCR Arquitectes
Enigma restaurant, Barcelona - Engima restaurant in Barcelona - photo by Pau Llimona courtesy of RCR Arquitectes

For anyone who likes food to be an incredible journey, Enigma is the place to go. Though that might not be apparent from the outside.The restaurant takes up 7,500sqft of an unexciting office block in Barcelona’s Sant Antoni district.

Inside this humble exterior the architects configured six zones, through which diners pass, enjoying a tasting menu of more than 40 small dishes. These icy, cloud-like rooms might look a little too high-concept for a place more about food than design, yet Albert says these interiors have had a direct influence on the dishes he has created.

 

Enigma restaurant, Barcelona - Engima restaurant in Barcelona - photo by Pau Llimona courtesy of RCR Arquitectes
Enigma restaurant, Barcelona - Engima restaurant in Barcelona - photo by Pau Llimona courtesy of RCR Arquitectes

“The type of cuisine we make is determined by the space. If we were, for example, surrounded by nature, we would cook entirely different dishes,” Albert explains.

To reproduce the effects of the water colour, RCR used Neolith, a durable compacted stone. This floor combines with the glass wall panels, and a ceiling of tufted aluminum netting to create a space that ‘melts’ and ‘disappears’.

 

Enigma restaurant, Barcelona - Engima restaurant in Barcelona - photo by Pau Llimona courtesy of RCR Arquitectes
Enigma restaurant, Barcelona - Engima restaurant in Barcelona - photo by Pau Llimona courtesy of RCR Arquitectes

The bar area, meanwhile, has an entirely different character, with a dark floor, suspended naked light bulbs, conventional furniture and exposed brick walls.

Enigma is all about wow factor. In its heavy detailing it is quite a break from RCR’s previous projects, one of which, The Joan Oliver Library, is such a close neighbour it would be easy to stroll over and compare the two.

 

Enigma restaurant, Barcelona - Engima restaurant in Barcelona - photo by Pau Llimona courtesy of RCR Arquitectes
Enigma restaurant, Barcelona - Engima restaurant in Barcelona - photo by Pau Llimona courtesy of RCR Arquitectes

For more on the pioneering work of Albert and his brother Ferran get elBulli 2005–2011. For more on creative interiors get Room.


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