What does a Fitbit have in common with a cafe? According to Andrés Jaque, founder and principal of the Office for Political Innovation (OFFPOLINN), both are “prosthetics of the body” that extend its functions and operations into the surrounding world. The Madrid- and New York–based studio infused that idea into its vibrant design for Run Run Run, a new eatery in Madrid’s Vallehermoso neighborhood that’s part farm, part athletic center, part cafe, part something else entirely.
OFFPOLINN collaborated with restaurateurs Grupo La Musa to create a space for runners to refuel with a post-workout pit stop. The cafe’s main seating space is in a greenhouse-like structure trimmed in a mint-green frame that sits atop the marigold-yellow, basement-level kitchen and communal bar. Hanging from the concrete structure above, a vertical garden grows between the two levels and supplies the cafe with fresh produce. “Clean eating” takes on new meaning as water from an open shower provided for runners to rinse off is reclaimed to irrigate the garden. Other areas more often associated with gyms, such as a locker room, further support customers using the city as a training course.
To maximize the interior’s flexibility, Jaque and his team conceived the space as “a metabolism rather than a fixed box.” Freestanding furniture and architectural features are color coded according to their relative fixity. Peachy hues in the interlocking marble slabs of the floor are echoed in the scalloped backs of the blush sofas as well as the bubblegum-tinted ceiling to signal permanence. Red and green represent objects in flux or in a constant state of motion. Movable metal chairs, stools, and tables coated in blood orange are paired with vibrant turquoise cork seats resembling stacked bricks, each designed, prototyped, and fabricated by OFFPOLINN’s Spanish atelier.
Together, the pieces contribute to an ever-changing spatial constellation that invites visitors to make and remake their environment. “Every half hour the whole thing would be reconfigured,” Jaque said about a recent trip to the space, “letting these pieces move and relate to each other differently.” This sense of movement, circulation, and exchange is what has made Run Run Run, well, run, since its opening last spring.
Like the arrangement of space, the studio’s involvement in Run Run Run is part of an ongoing process. “One thing that is very exciting for us is that we stay engaged in the management of the project,” Jaque said. “We continue to be a part of the ecosystem. This allows us to think of architecture as a tentative practice, one that is always making things work a little bit better and is always in permanent evolution.”
Header image: A suite of custom lightweight, flexible furnishings was developed specifically for Run Run Run by OFFPOLINN’s Madrid studio. The pieces encourage patrons to constantly reposition them. The intense tones on the bricklike cork seats are achieved by layering a number of wax-based coatings that also bolster the durability of the pieces. (José Hevia)