Monday, November 5, 2018

Travels with THE STYLE SALONISTE: Design spotting in Buenos Aires, Argentina

A very special recent discovery — Casa Cavia is a modern privately owned cultural center with historic elegance, thanks to its chic remodel by KallosTurin Architects. Casa Cavia showcases the style and spirit of classic Buenos Aires while celebrating modern architecture, gastronomy, design, literature and art. I loved the daring originality, the vision, and especially the creativity of this fantastic design and architecture find.

Lupe Garcia and Ana Mosqueda

On my recent assignment to Buenos Aires, I was extremely fortunate to visit the new Casa Cavia, a publisher’s headquarters with a fine restaurant , bookshop, garden and bar. It was designed by London-based architect Stephania Kallos and her partner Abigail Turin, who is based in San Francisco. I love the purity and intelligence of their architecture.

I enjoyed chatting with Ana in the tranquil garden, watching clients coming and going with lavish armfuls of lilies and exotic orchids from Blumm shop. 

I stayed for a light lunch, a lovely salad with grilled shrimp, and a delicious ‘vegetarian cannoli’ (rolled up using spinach instead of pasta) stuffed with mixed squash and other vegetables. It was actually the staff meal that day.

Ana, the publisher, gave me a tour of her bookshop (lots of art books) and then her upstairs office, with brass bookshelves and a beautiful 1920s chandelier.

Then I stayed for coffee in the garden, as attractive young BA families and couples with little dogs arrived for afternoon tea.

I departed and headed to the Museum of Fine Arts to see an indepth Tate loan of Turner watercolors.

I was looking forward to visiting Casa Cavia and meeting the owners. I know and admire the architects, and Casa Cavia had been praised by Christina Ohly Evans in the Financial Times ‘How to Spend It’ magazine. She called Casa Cavia “The Buenos Aires one-top shop for delighting all the senses.”

Publisher Ana Mosqueda publishes in Spanish all the great Argentine writers with her imprint, Ampersand. She offers personal inspiration and delight with some of her favorite international books in the Casa Cavia bookshop.

It’s all very private, very insider, and a jewel in the lively arts and culinary scene of gorgeous Buenos Aires.

Casa Cavia, is located in the lovely Palermo Chico area of Buenos Aires. It is a historic house facing Alemania Square.

The original building, designed in 1929 by the distinguished architect Alejandro Christophersen, is situated between towering residential buildings and remains a single poetic reminder of the elegant residences that once populated this square.

Kallos Turin, an award winning architecture and design firm were commissioned to renovate the historic building to include a café, bar, flower shop, courtyard garden and publishing offices.

The 1920’s building was carefully reworked using sympathetic materials. This lively cultural center showcases the best of Buenos Aires while promoting architecture, gastronomy, design, literature and art. 

Stephania Kallos

Abigail Turin

Stephania Kallos and Abigail Turin have cleverly rethought the building to artfully accommodate the different spaces

“We always wanted it to feel like a residence that happens to contain a restaurant, publishing firm and bookshop within it, rather than a house that has been reworked to be a restaurant and publishing firm” said Kallos.

“Achieving an almost familial connection between the architecture, the books and the gastronomy became critical,’ adds Turin. “We wanted to blur the lines between the programs, so that the florists, publishers and chefs felt at home throughout the spaces.” 

Kallos Turin and Their Exquisite Plan

Kallos Turin’s design approach for Casa Cavia was to restore the historic house, retain the original details and then carefully insert modern design elements as a counterpoint to the historic space. While the insertions are crisp and modern in form, the materials palette – white and green marble, brass, antiqued mirror, leather and terrazzo flooring – pays homage to the villas and restaurants of the 1920's and 30's typically seen in both Paris and Buenos Aires. 

The garden is conceived as a lushly planted field of dark green plantings. Planes of green terrazzo are inserted within the field of green planting to create zones for dining and gathering.

“Working on an urban garden surrounded by such tall buildings allowed us to think about the garden as a room. It also forced us to carefully consider the vertical and reflective elements. ” said Abigail Turin.

A raised pool at the center of the garden is positioned to reflect the sky and surrounding landscaping. A series of floating pavers and platforms connects the original house.

This was originally a private residence, so there was already an intimate flow of spaces. The goal was to retain the existing flow and preserve the sense of separate rooms that you find within a house from this period.

The interior Café is composed of four separate rooms.

The entry passage, which was originally just for circulation, has been transformed into a dynamic space for gathering and exhibition.

And the reception space, which is airy and light and has views to the garden.

There’s a salon, which is darker and slightly more formal; and the library, which references both the classic library spaces found in homes from this period and the publishing house on the floor above. 

Blumm Flower Boutique

A flower shop in a shaded corner at the end of the garden is housed in a more modern structure, but detailed with the same materials. The walls of the space are intentionally dark, with the flowers illuminated to create contrast and the draw the viewer's eye from across the courtyard. The flower shop is lined with wood shelves to highlight the colorful blooms and has a glass front orientated toward the historic house across the garden.


Julieta Caruso is head chef of restaurant La Cocina de Casa Cavia.
“Each dish contains a story,” said proprietor Lupe GarcíaMosqueda. “At Casa Cavia we ask ourselves how are arts and food linked, what stories inspire dishes and what dishes inspire stories?” 

Embracing this philosophy, diners are encouraged toexperience eating foods in new and inventive ways, all of which relate to quotes and excerpts from famous literature, comics or even music. Meanwhile, drinks are based on the preferred wines, spirits and cocktails of famous authors. 

The Architecture

“Christophersen’s original proportions, plan and detailing were intelligent and elegant,” said Kallos. “When you work on a building of this caliber, you learn from its original architect. We were very inspired by the idea of this small, graceful building having held its place on a block that has otherwise been completely developed. In its small elegant way, it is a very powerful force on the street. We think this is a lovely metaphor.”

New outdoor seating lines the vertical garden. The bar is positioned behind the pool and is fully covered so it can be used throughout the year. A key component of the original concept was to have the garden feel like a partially interior and partially exterior room and this expansion capitalizes on that idea. 

And a Quick Personal Tip
When you visit Casa Cavia — to buy flowers, sip a cocktail, enjoy a late breakfast or buy books…please ask for a free map and guide to Palermo Chico that lists museums, bike stations, architecture, galleries and historic embassies. You’ll want to visit all of their recommendations.

Stephania Kallos

Abigail Turin

About Kallos Turin

Established in 2003 by Stephania Kallos and Abigail Turin, Kallos Turin is an international design firm based in London and San Francisco. The firm provides architecture, interior and furniture design services. Past and current projects include high-end single family homes and residential developments as well as office, restaurant and retail projects. In 2010 Kallos Turin was awarded the prestigious International Award from the Royal Institute of British Architects for its design of the Villalagos Residences in Uruguay.

Abigail Turin runs the San Francisco office of Kallos Turin. Prior to founding Kallos Turin, Abigail worked at David Chipperfield Architects in London, where she and the firm’s co-founder, Stephania Kallos, first met. In her undergraduate years, Abigail studied architecture at Wellesley and MIT and subsequently received her Master's degree in Architecture, with Distinction, from Harvard University. Abigail is an Associate member of the AIA. She currently serves as the vice-chair of SFMOMA’s Architecture and Design Accessions Committee and sits on the National Committee of the Whitney Museum.

Stephania Kallos runs the London office of Kallos Turin. Prior to co-founding Kallos Turin, Stephania worked at David Chipperfield Architects in London and New York, focusing on hotel projects and on the stores and concessions for Dolce and Gabbana worldwide. She was a designer in the office of Claudio Silvestrin and ran the restaurants division of Conran and Partners. Stephania is a registered architect and member of the RIBA.


Client/Owner: Lupe Mosqueda Garcia

Design Architect: Kallos Turin

Local Architect: Mercer Seward Arquitectos

Lighting Consultant: George Sexton Associates

Landscape Designer: Bulla Paisajismo

Contractor: Progorod S.A.

Interior fit-out Contractor: Gorza y Cia

Photography: Juan Hitters


Stephania Kallos
London + San Francisco
37 Pottery Lane
London W11 4LY
+44 207 229 5840

Casa Cavia/Ampersand Publishing
Cavia 2985,
Palermo Chico, Argentina
+5411 4809 8600
+54 11 3640 7805 Whatsapp

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