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Located in a space formerly occupied by the Old Colony Trust Bank, Mantra restaurant emerged out of two divergent architectural strategies. The existing space was composed of tall proportions clad in an extravagantly grained marble and a steel-lined vault, replete with a monumental three-foot-thick vault door. The mandates of a restaurant would require spaces of varying kinds, some public while others more private and intimate. As such, the second strategy incorporates techniques of installations and interventions as a vehicle to give different characteristics to each of the inserted spaces. One piece stands out as the main icon: a colossal wooden structure fashions a pleated still- life inside the restaurant. Known as the Hookah den, the structure serves to anchor the main axis of the restaurant. 

The culture of the restaurant served as an alibi to give particular allusions to the various installations. With a menu drawing from French culinary techniques and Indian spices, the architecture of the restaurant is analogously hybrid in approach — working with Indian typologies, materials, and references while at the same time using techniques specific to contemporary architectural and constructional culture. The thematic transformation of the space –the importation of Indian silks, tents, jali screens, among other allusive techniques are brought to the project to provide different dining and leisure environments while giving cultural specificity to the proposal. 

Thematically, all materials –steel, wood, plaster, glass, among others–are absorbed by methods conventionally attributed to apparel design or sartorial techniques. Polished plaster-lined volumes drape from the ceiling in three niches to conceal all mechanical spaces containing HVAC, sound, and lighting elements.  Tall metal chain-mail scrims line other public zones, theatrically lit to reveal and conceal the collective spaces from the intimate. A glass screen frames the view of a back alley, a narrow urban trough of space delicately and surreally exposed to the lush dining interior. A laser-scored steel mirror, ripples as a folded ribbon behind the length of the bar reflecting a distorted image of the space to its audience. 

Principals: Monica Ponce de Leon, Nader Tehrani

Project coordinators: Zack Hinchliffe, Duks Koschitz, Christine Mueller

Design Team: Carlos Arnaiz, Chat Chuenrudeemol, Andrew Cruse, Elisa Silva, Tim Clark, Kristine Synnes, Hamad Al- Sultan, Achille Rossini, Albert Garcia, Jeff Asanza, Hansy Luz Better, Elise Shelley, Tali Buchler, Richard Lee, Chris Eidt  

Associate Architect/Architect of record: Alexander Coogan Architect Inc. 

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