Mercado “Cantera”, Mexico | hw-studio

Mexican hw-studio recently completed a small minimalist gastronomic market project in Morelia, Michoacán. The new, all white volumes, inserted on a former warehouse area of 8x40m, create a unique, contemporary universe that balances between the new and the old.
Photography © Bruno Gómez de la Cueva    

Description from hw-studio:

When we began to work on this project, the client showed us a warehouse of 8.00 x 40.00 meters, located two blocks from one of the most important music schools in the country, the former convent of XVI Century Dominican nuns of Santa Catalina de Siena, and one of the most beloved, beautiful and visited squares in Morelia: Las Rosas.
The client wanted to turn that winery into a gastronomic market, we liked the idea, but most of all we liked the silence that was felt, (uncommon quality in the downtown of a Mexican city) we also thought it was a good opportunity to combine our language with the architectures of the past and to explore the relationship and the dialectic between both.

That cellar was, in the middle of the 16th century, the backyard of the house of a wealthy family of the time. However, over time, reforms, ownership changes and different uses of the place, some modifications took place that caused the space to lose its essence. The roof was covered with aluminium sheet, the quarry walls were flattened with cement and a marble and resin floor was placed... very characteristic of the 60s. We thought that the place had lost its soul.

The design process began by identifying the most popular and crowded food places in the area. It was easy to discover that public squares were the places where people concentrated to eat; either in a nearby restaurant, on the terraces or simply on a bench in the square itself.

From there, we identified some compositional elements of these places: the axes, the axial routes, the volumes, the sky, the trees, the use of natural materials, and we incorporated them. In the case of the walls, we rediscovered them to configure a similar atmosphere to the one of these squares so that the market attendees felt in a familiar, easy and natural place. 

Everything antique with architectural value would be rescued, and the new would formally and materially have a different nature: a white and defined nature that would demonstrate its own presence, and its own historical and conceptual moment. With this, we would try to achieve a balance between the new and the old.

A tree-lined central avenue was drawn, flanked by two white longitudinal volumes. On each of these, two other transversal volumes were assembled in the form of an inverted "L", which serve to cover an area of ​​tables at the bottom and create terraces at the top. However, its most important function is to frame, without exclusion, the different layers of architectural history left over the centuries. Also, it is meant to intersect light and space in a way that their presence is emphasized, and they become intangible protagonists of the place.

It was gratifying to discover how these simple elements frame the architecture of the sixteenth, nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries: the jacaranda, the ash, the sky, the cathedral towers, the wall of the back wall, a pigeon that crosses eventually, some balloon that escapes a child in the church. Without trying to be exaggerated or melodramatic, it seems that everything fits within these frames; the whole universe allows us for expression. 

Source: hw-studio