VORTEX: RIO TINTO ALCAN PLANETARIUM’S RESTAURANT

The creation of a space for mingling, eating, special events, and discovery of other offerings of the Planetarium, such as books and memorabilia. The project will permit people visiting the Planetarium, the Biodome, the Olympic Stadium and the Botanical Gardens to enjoy a gastronomical experience coupled with a didactic dimension. The objective was to create nothing less than a unique destination, a provocative environment worthy of the site.

In the initial competition proposal for the Planetarium, the area allocated for the restaurant was programmed as a boutique and a cafeteria located outside the natural circulation of the building, which is defined by two spherical auditoria.  Apart from generous windows, there are no spatial cues that qualify this peripheral zone.  Thus, the project had to resolve a spatial conundrum: on the one hand to engage and dialogue spatially and materially with a monumentally scaled environment, while on the other hand creating a human scale appropriate for dining, cocktails and other more intimate events.

The vortex is a channel carved through the void of the Planetarium’s leftover space, creating a dynamic vacuum which draws people towards the bar which is slightly canted in order to benefit from diagonal views towards the two main gathering areas: the outdoor terrace and the Olympic Stadium.  Along the interior surface of the vortex, backlit showcases that present thematic shows are inserted into the canted walls.  Along the outside of the vortex are comfortable laminated seating banquettes which organize the space into two distinct dining experiences.