Located in the center of Porto, in a historic building from the 19th century, Elemento is a restaurant with an open wood-fired kitchen. GRAU.ZERO was commissioned to design the interior and decoration for the project.
It all started at the end of 2018, when Chef Ricardo Dias Ferreira first met with the GRAU.ZERO team with an unique challenge, in a building with considerable limitations, due to the typical narrow and long layout of historic Oporto buildings.
Inspired by the desire to return to a primitive way of cooking, the chef asked us to design an open kitchen with a traditional wood oven and an area to smoke food with coal, allowing people to see every step from preparation to plating.
This was the premise of our work, to design a restaurant with an open kitchen with maximum visibility to the oven. Our first challenge came when meeting the venue, the ground floor of a beautiful 5 story building, with 4.8 meters width and 40.85 metres long. The characteristics of the place were not favorable not only to create an open kitchen, due to its proportions, but also because we needed to think of a way for the wooden oven to work properly, considering its chimney was really high.
Our approach to this challenge was to create a clean and simple space, where the kitchen was the center of the restaurant, but also respect the character of the building.
To accommodate the briefing, from conceptual vision to technical specifications for the project, we created a structure coupled along the left wall of the building. At the entrance of the restaurant, the first thing one can find is a marble podium with fire and a pile of wood, from floor to ceiling. This pile of wood is the start of the structure that holds the core of the restaurant, a great white and marbled wall that expands to create room for the kitchen, the bar, the wine cellar, and all the needed technical spaces.
Considering that the restaurant occupies a historic building, we decided to preserve the untouched original stone walls of the building, which creates an even greater contrast with this second wall, that leads the way to the kitchen. This wall is arched and opens to almost the total width of the building, leaving only the space for a comfortable passage to the dining area.
Passing the front doors and the pile of wood, one finds a small waiting room and cocktail area, marking a transition and setting the pass for dinner. Further into the building, where the wall expands and opens to expose the fire kitchen, which is totally made of firebrick, including walls and the main working counter, where the fire oven and the coal/smoking area are. In this part of the restaurant it is possible to sit and dinner accompanying the entire process of the meal creation, since preparation to plating.
Passing this area is another dinner ambience, more traditional. In this final area of the restaurant it is possible to visit the wine cellar, an iron structure that occupies the entire wall from floor to ceiling, which opens to the dining room through an archway.
At the end of this space follows a courtyard, which once again shows some of the original stone walls and enlightens the back of the restaurant.
In line with the concept, the chosen materials were raw and simple (such as stone walls, the concrete floor and the rough textured white walls), an exception made to the white portuguese marble Estremoz, which made the connection between raw primitive elements and the delicacy of the food.
Created in April 2004, GRAU.ZERO is a studio based in Oporto, Portugal. Since then, we have worked for 9 countries, in 3 different continents. Currently, we are working on multiple projects across the country.
Our architecture emerges out of a passion for continuing to challenge and redefine our limits. Always committed to designing buildings and spaces that are innovative, socially, economically and environmentally responsible.
We also work at multiple scales, from rehabilitations of private housing in historic centers to education centers and apartment blocks. Nevertheless and regardless of size, all projects have the same level of intimacy, research and consideration.
Our scope of work is essentially private demand, focusing mainly in hospitality, tourism and housing.
We have exhibitions, awards and publications in magazines and specialty books, in countries like Morocco, Italy, Slovenia, South Korea or China.
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