The Sweet Alchemy workshop is a tailor made space for the training of patisserie apprentices under the guidance and directorship of head pâtissier and owner Mr. Stelios Parliaros. It is located on the underground level of the Sweet Alchemy patisserie. The idea for the workshop follows on the conceptual tracks of the Sweet Alchemy patisserie project. The mental journey to the practice of alchemy with its mysterious laboratories and intricate devices progresses to the notion of the alchemist guilds of medieval times. The alchemist guilds were associations of master alchemists that employed young people as helpers in exchange for vocational training and shelter. Most apprentices aspired to becoming master alchemists themselves on completion of their contract.
The organization of the workshop draws on attributes of the master’s workshop such as the positioning of the main working surface and the uninterrupted display of the materials and tools. A pâtissier training demands direct and uninterrupted observation of the whole process of preparing and baking. The grand table is centered to the rear edge of the space to allow for the apprentices to gather around the master and observe freely. The work surface is framed by various sizes metal box shelves that are stacked together in an informal arrangement forming a wall .The shelves hold the raw materials contained in a variety of vessels, the books, tools, the electrical devices, all displayed in an open, articulated and comprehensive manner.This wall acts as a material pallet for the students to observe and learn. Furthermore it acts a spatial diaphragm that separates the main space designated for teaching from auxiliary spaces like the storage rooms located on the other side.
Behind the grand table there is another working surface which incorporates the glass ceramic cooktops and the sink. The working surface is dichotomized by a vertical metal display tray where various tools of the trade are stored and organized according to the demands of each lesson. The table near the staircase is where the final stage of the lesson takes place. It is there that the tasting and the critique of the creations are conducted and where the students can have their own slice of alchemy. The spatial arrangement is based on bilateral symmetry. Its axis is dictated by the central exposed concrete beam that runs the length of the space. The idea was to introduce a centralized amphitheatric spatial configuration in order to provide for unobstructed views to the working area. The masters table becomes the vanishing point of the space and the focal point of the users.
The materials selection was guided by the atmosphere we wanted to create and their compatibility with each other. We looked upon the reaction of radiances of different materials in order to create a unique composition. Iron, copper and oak were selected for their natural characteristics, color texture, firmness and were only processed but not altered in order to emulate an appearance. Oak was used due to its density and mass that counteract the weight of the exposed concrete. Copper was used for its warm radiance that complements the oak, and blackened iron for its subtle and fleeting glow. The working surfaces were made of black Corian which was selected because it is a hard, inert, nonporous material that meets the hygienic criteria and in addition balances the rich texture and surface of the reclaimed wooden concrete casting boards that were used for the construction of the master’s table.
Our intention was to create a space that you would enter and begin to feel you could stay there, not a theatrical set, a representation of a long gone environment but a theatre of life that would resonate its atmosphere to all its visitors. The sense of mythical, the mysterious discovery and the transition to another reality were the characteristics of the ‘Sweet Alchemy’ of Mr. Parliaros and those we wanted to transfuse to the Workshop project.
The ideal space must contain elements of magic, serenity, sorcery and mystery.
+ Project facts
LOCATION: KIFISIA, ATHENS, GREECE
PRINCIPAL ARCHITECT: KOIS STELIOS
PROJECT LEADER: MARIELINA STAVROU
DESIGN TEAM: PATSIAOURAS NIKOS, PHILIPOS MANOLAS
PHOTOGRAPHY: GIORGOS SFAKIANAKIS (www. gsfak.com)