Dezeen Magazine

Barrio North by Anarchitect

The interior of Barrio North, a bar by London architects Anarchitect,  features back-to-front tiles and a cannibalised caravan.


The bar, in Islington, north London, combines Latin bar culture with British eccentricity.


The caravan has been modified to create seating with artwork displayed in lightboxes where the windows used to be.


Here's some text from Anarchitect:

The inspiration for Barrio North derives from client Ferdie Ahmed's love of Hispanic culture and music. Situated in Islington, North London it couldn't be further physically from the sun and warmth of the places it has taken its inspiration from. Formally 'The Warrick', the site for Barrio is a long narrow space with light to the front elevation only.


Conceptually the main issues were how to draw people into the space. All around there are many bars and pubs; most have large fascias, square plots with lots of natural light.


The key to the project was to offer something different from its contemporaries as it was unable to compete with their physical prowess.


Two simple moves were made on plan, firstly; the removal of the cellar from the front, which opened up the facade and secondly, the shifting of the male wc's , pushing the services back and the users forward towards the front of the bar.


Rather than replicating a Barrio feel, or a little Barcelona, the architects and designers have pulled together and fused elements of British culture and Latin flair. creating a very urban British view of a client-led Barrio concept.


With a low budget, decisions had to be carefully, considered and skillfully executed. Recycled tiles were reversed and re-used on the walls, the 'key' becoming the visual face, 'made in Spain' proudly confronting the viewer. Floor grills protect artwork and re-cycled parquet adorns the walls.


A found caravan from ebay, sliced and dissected provides benches and features lightboxes for windows with Larry the donkey from Hackney City Farm looking on, artwork by Charlotte Mew.

As music is a major driving force in the project a plywood wall unfolds as necessary, creating daytime benches, or evening high tables which can be folded away to create a late night dance area. Above, rows of reversed tiles await their personalisation. Barrio North invites friends to own a tile and make their mark. This wall will grow over time, infecting the bar slowly.

Anarchitect opened the facade, creating a tiled frame for the bar. Floor to ceiling glass doors invite you through the window to the 'barrio'. Light floods the front space allowing daytime use, previously impossible. Reversed bathroom tiles adorn the bar front with an orange laminated tongue acting as a bar top which guides you through the space. Plywood panels rising from the back bar envelop it, acting as a screen for projections or films.