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Another Architecture: Atelier Caracas

Photo: Zachary Kendrick

Founded by Julio Kowalenko and Rodrigo Armas, Atelier Caracas proposes a new perspective for experiencing spaces and architecture by breaking down common understandings and prejudices in architecture and suggesting that different elements can coexist harmoniously.

Atelier Caracas creates a unique aesthetic by breaking away from traditional molds. With which elements does this unique aesthetic manifest in your designs, and what kind of experience does it offer the audience?

Although our architecture is, aesthetic wise, strident and colourful, we don’t see our aesthetic inclinations as a common threat. For us it’s all about how things are joined. We both share an affinity with industrial design, and if our projects share something, it will have to be the rigour in which the parts are attached to the whole. Be it a credenza or a five story building, all scales are meticulously conceived and resolved. We are convinced that people (connoisseurs or not) appreciate when design is coherent and well conceived.

Your project, Fun Maze, is used as a motor therapy and rehabilitation center. How do you think architectural design can stimulate the imagination of users during the therapy process and lead them to a more fun and motivating experience?

Like stated, Fun Maze is a motor therapy and rehabilitation center for children with mental disabilities, so our main goal was to humanize the doctor’s consultation office, to eradicate the cubicle and use it as a way of promoting alternative ways of socializing amongst visitors. The idea was to create an infrastructure that transforms therapy spaces into lineal parks where parents, therapists, pets and children can reimagine how their bodies can relate to and interact with scale, light and space.

Fun Maze

The project encourages users to interact with each other through sensory therapy rooms and common areas. How do these interactions create a sense of connection and solidarity between users?

Our main goal was to create a space in which every user, no matter the age, could relate on a personal level with light, form, and scale. In the end it’s not only about the children themselves, but the doctors and visitors as well. Every user in instantly wrapped inside this friendly blue and yellow universe in which the outside world seems to disappear.

Fun Maze

Can a learning and therapy environment designed to meet the needs of a child with intellectual disabilities contribute to treatment? According to Architecture for Autism, a non-profit American organization, such a design has the potential to significantly improve sensory processing abilities, enable solid learning, and establish lasting bonds with peers for a youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The center designed by Atelier Caracas in the capital of Venezuela encompasses consultation offices, sensory therapy rooms, and common areas lined along an interactive pathway measuring 45 meters long and 3 meters wide. The 187-square-meter covered corridor encourages children, as well as their therapists, parents, and even pets, to establish and interact with new relationships in scale, light, and space. Curved turquoise walls adorned with playful spherical windows guide freely through the space, much like a maze with hidden corners. The overhead cover is built on a structure of metal lattice beams and covered with galvanized sheeting featuring linear perforations, allowing natural light to adapt to changing weather conditions.

How do you think the traditional materials and craftsmanship used in your projects, combined with industrial technologies and materials, create innovation and creativity? How do you bridge traditional materials with modern technology in your designs?

Practicing architecture in Venezuela teaches you to work with scarcity of means as a premise. On our daily basis, we are usually experimenting with forgotten and out of fashion materials we find in supply stores and pushing the boundaries of what can be done with them. This notion of scarcity as creativity is what we consider innovative in our designs.

Home Office


"We are currently obsessed with Venezuelan buses. The curved shaped windows, the strident and colorful graphics, and the furry interiors. These are things that for us have architectural DNA which we dissect and rearrange in a different manner in our work."


Home Office

Designed to interpret and pay homage to the Italian design masters whom Atelier Caracas idolizes, the Home Office collection explores the boundaries of Italian design with a particularly fluffy, almost humorous, yet meticulously crafted aesthetic. The collection by Caracas, which combines various inspirations and passions in defining its own aesthetic, includes a long chaise lounge, a spherical bar, and a container box.

The Parasite

The Parasite

When Atelier Caracas was tasked with transforming the cafeteria of a local school into a flexible dining area that could also host small theater productions and art exhibitions, they saw it as an opportunity to renovate the entire building, which was in a dire state due to the socio-economic crisis sweeping the country. Faced with budget constraints, the team found a simple yet challenging solution inspired by the physiology of parasites. A parasite living on a host changes its environment without altering the host's DNA; similarly, the architects achieved their goal by using the building's existing materials in innovative ways to transform the school's spatial arrangement and overall ambiance.

The architects' decision to repurpose the building's deteriorating infrastructure to create new spaces was not only financially and environmentally sensible but also served as an inspiration for the students and the broader community. Traditional white granite slabs and modest terracotta tiles were used to create bold curves on the floor; ordinary concrete blocks were enlivened with metallic door frames and bright yellow benches, while old blackboards found new life as doors far from their original classrooms. The resourceful renovation of the school, based on a playful aesthetic of graphic boldness, stands out as a design paradigm in a country experiencing severe shortages.

Are you excited for the future? What are your plans?

Umarım yakın gelecekte, Atelier Caracas'ın bir mimarlık pratiği olarak gerçekten neyi temsil ettiğini gösteren birkaç inşa edilmiş projemiz olacak. Yakında ilk 5 katlı binamızı bitireceğiz ve yapım aşamasında olan iki özel konutumuz var. Bu yıl ilk kez Salone del Mobile'e gitme şansımız oldu. Giulia Castelli tarafından çok sayıda ilginç ve yetenekli meslektaşımızla tanıştığımız birçok etkinliğe davet edildik. Belki gelecek yıl şu anda üzerinde çalıştığımız bazı yeni işleri sergileme fırsatı buluruz. 


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