By Roberto Lucchese
Photos by Miguel de Guzman
Roadside restaurants are a rare species within the increasingly prestigious restaurant world. Such places superpose their condition as an infrastructure adapted to the commercial, informational and social flow of the road network on mythical scenarios taken from road movies and literature. In recent years, their structures have evolved in order to offer services for large-format events without this having involved anything more than a change in scale.
The project rose to the challenge of changing this trend by building a structure capable of managing a programme subject to constant reorganisation, with the presence of a heterogeneous public and the expectation of diverse uses, a flexible space capable of setting itself up as a scenario for almost any type of activity. The aim was to transform a roadside restaurant into a versatile infrastructure for events and meals.
Lolita is located in La Almunia de Doña Godina, junction 270 of Autovía A-2, in a strategic position from a logistical point of view between the commercial routes of Madrid-Barcelona and Valencia-Bilbao, just a few kilometres from several towns and in the vicinity of the university campus of the EUPLA. The building seeks to exploit a variety and mixture of activities, on one hand attending to the different groups of users and on the other to the diversity of lengths of stays, that can go from the 10 minutes spent by the occasional visitor on a coffee break to the lunch taken by the regular patrons that follow the commercial routes, the compulsory rest times of the haulage drivers, the afternoons of the students who take advantage of the Wi-Fi networks or the full day spent by guests at a celebration.
The project is configured as a cumulative space of experiences that, by linking two autonomous and differentiated systems, explores the compatibility of the open-plan model with one of specific and designated spaces.
The soft system configures a continuous space of irregular geometry perforated by patios where the camp-style grouping of furniture and the flexible lighting enable different ways of organising the space. The interior is characterised by a patterned/semi-perforated concrete slab and by the wood, glass and polycarbonate of the walls. The façade is a variable-section double strip that establishes a dynamic and variable relationship with the exterior space, facilitating the full view of the surrounding landscape while in the interior creating a complex play of reflections and transparencies.
The rigid system is a build-up of specialised boxes made from 8-metre-long alveolar panels and brick walls that house specific and to some extent ritualised programmes. In the interior the spaces are customised by combining the criteria of the programme with elements taken from popular culture. The system is connected with the surroundings through well-chosen and fragmented vistas, generating a hermetic image that allows the large blind surfaces to be used as a support for road signage.