The Melting Pot
Eleftherias Street is one of the oldest thoroughfares in the historic center of Limassol, with a past of great commercial activity, combining residential and commercial buildings from the mid-19th century, with influences from British colonialism up until the mid-20th century, when modernism had already exerted its influence on local architecture.
In the late 80’s, with the city developing towards the east, the area declined, several of the buildings were abandoned, and their use was limited almost entirely to craft. Following the recent completion of the marina, the area is regaining attention, and many buildings of architectural and historical interest have been restored.
One of the buildings, that is clearly influenced by the modernism of the 40’s, is the two-storey building with a triangular plan, which is located at the intersection of Eleftherias and Aphrodites streets. Aphrodites street, on the south side of the building, had served as the thoroughfare of the Turkish Cypriot quarter, a borderline between Christian and Muslim elements. The restoration of this building, and the conversion of its ground floor into a concept store, has been undertaken by the architectural office Arcube Studio by Panayiotis Stelikos.
In terms of morphology, the visible linear structural elements, made of reinforced concrete with large windows and skylights, clearly indicate the influences of modernism on the ground floor. On the other hand, the limited openings on the first floor, the wooden windows with shutters, but mainly the wooden roof, refer to 19th-century architecture. The perimetrical balcony, which is an extension of the ground floor slab, not only functions as a planar structural element that separates the two floors, but also as a boundary between the two architectural periods.
The Melting Pot is an exhibition space where design appreciators may also enjoy selected music, specialty coffee, quality cocktails and hand picked dishes. This idea emerged from the necessity of an empirical presentation of RIZA, the new furniture brand launched by Panayiotis Stelikos.
The main referential point for the configuration of the fixed elements and the spatial assignment of the functions of the interior area is the perimeter of the building, which consists of two linear sections that converge in a circular arc. The design of the bar relies on this form, a floating concrete volume with references to futurism, in light terracotta color from a combination of pigments that has been created especially for the venue. At points it resembles a rock in the desert and at other points an aircraft from the future. It has been placed centrally, around the central column, as an offset of the perimeter inwards. This central placement brings the beverage production process to the forefront, while allowing a circular movement between the production area and the seats.
The scale has also been utilized in the case of the bar, with its net height kept as low as possible, so that its relationship with the distance to the ceiling, makes the space more impressive. Smaller volumes of the same material, the Kaivu, are found in the perimeter of the space, serving as stands for exhibits, as seats and as tables.
Light terracotta color, in a different shade, is found on the fabrics used as upholstery, on the Porana sofa, and on the cushions of chairs and of armchairs.
The brown and gray shades, applied to the structural elements, the window facades and the flowerbeds, connect the building externally with the Cypriot urban landscape, while the gray of the external steps, that extends to the inner floor, acts as a material connecting the exterior with the interior. The integration of the interior with the exterior and with the immediate urban environment, is achieved organically through a total of five doors, two on each side and one in the circular arch of the space. In such an asymmetrical floor plan, each of these five doors makes a distinctive impression.
For instance, entering through the main door creates a sense of a space that is firm and impressive, dominated by white and with considerable height, whereas anyone entering from either of the north entrances, will face the light terracotta of the bar and the climbing plants further inside, which create a sense of familiarity of an urban courtyard.
The white of the interior walls and of the high ceiling is also found in a glossy texture in many of the furniture, and more prominently in the perforated stands with the steel frames, formed by polygonal chains of straight sections and circular arches, that start from the floor and end at the ceiling.
The tall, frameless doorway leading to the auxiliary spaces is integrated with the wall with its handle following the logic of the linear metal frames. The space’s open plan, combined with the large windows, allows for the light to diffuse abundantly, while the existing steel meshes on the south side, utilized for the climbing plants, create unique shadows during the morning hours.
The logic of alternating between the transparency of the white exhibition stands, that opposes the monolithicity of the Kaivu, is also applied to the movable furniture, such as the steel chairs Anjo and Velma, combined with the Tukai seats. The white Uyuni dining set is an ideal combination of the monolithic nature of the concrete and the transparency achieved by the detachment of the table top and the stool seat from the steel base respectively. The Miyoshi armchair, embracing all the properties of the design principle, is bulky and elegant, thin as a sheet of folded paper, heavy and suspended.
The design principle of the movable furniture matches with that of the entire space, that is, the alternation between textures, colors and volumes, with minimal lines and the earthy color palette being a common attribute.
The color palette is comprised by colors of the Cypriot urban and natural landscape, in tones and textures that oftentimes refer to Scandinavia or to Korean minimalism. The green element, which also renders the space more earthy, encloses the building on the outside, while on the inside, succulents are suspended from the ceiling. The artificial lighting is mainly hidden, and is used more as a background element of the night scene, emphasizing the space’s basic structural elements.