Take a Pit Stop at This Eccentric Oasis Cafe in Guatemala City

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By Gabrielle Golenda / Published by Dwell
Step inside Saúl Bistro and you’re transported to the fantastical and bizarre interior of this modern tropical-themed cafe in Guatemala City.

Adjacent to one of the most densely packed highways in the country's capital lies a curious red monolith box. Indubitably amusing drivers passing by, the facade is punctured by protruding cars, which appear to be fixed in some kind of anti-gravity time warp. The structure itself serves as a rather unusual roadside attraction and rest stop, or if you will, an oasis.

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Inside, the tropical mise en scène takes full effect. Dreamt up by New York-based firm, Taller Ken, the vibrant interior is outfitted with layered textures and colors, fashioning a haven-like escape from the open road. "This project mines local patterns, materials, and textures, and collects them to make a fresh tropical atmosphere," explains the masterminds behind the project.

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Sawtooth lights illuminate the restaurant from above, while rainwater from the roof is collected in blue tanks and used to water the flora and fauna throughout. The seemingly arbitrarily placed concrete tiles used for the flooring actually serve as a way-finding guide—assisting cafe-goers attempting to circulate around the service core of the kitchen, bathrooms, and other various whims. 

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Designed as a "greenhouse," the eatery is contained within an open-air domain, with no glass partition separating it from the bordering walkways. Meanwhile, the exterior is equipped with custom-made steel panel folding shutters. From the outside, the facade envelops the majority of the structure, giving the impression of having a unified whole when seen from from all sides. 

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