London’s pop-up cargotecture Wahaca Mexican Restaurant sounded so good that we had to try it out for ourselves. Located on the steps of Southbank Center, the restaurant serves spicy Mexican market fare inside eight stacked shipping containers. Guests can dine in the light-filled shipping containers surrounded by specially commissioned art, and even receive their own chili peppers to grow for their own spicy dishes at home.
The busy Southbank Center is abuzz with traffic from the visitors checking out the nearby Blackfriars Solar Bridge and Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden, making it the perfect place for a pop-up. Diners can enter through the south side entrance cut from the shipping container into the lively kitchen area.
A walkway separates each stack of cargo containers to create a natural double floor atrium that floods light into the dining areas and the kitchen. One container is cut away to create a kitchen counter where the traditional Mexican street food sits as it awaits to be served to the busy dining area. Downstairs, visitors can enjoy the cross breeze created by the cut away walls that bring the upcycled benches and tables flush with the outside, and in perfect view of the Southbank Promenade foot traffic and tourist stands.
Upstairs, one cargo container serves as the restrooms, while another is designed to reveal the bar where fresh margaritas are mixed by the bar staff. The bar faces an open balcony with lounge chairs to sip sangria and take in the view or to wait for a table in the dining area. To compliment the bright colors of the shipping containers, Wahaca has also commissioned French born street artist Remed to create his colorful wall murals around the outside of the restaurant. Light sculptures in various words also flank the inside, doubling as light fixtures.
After the meal is over, Wahaca has one more sustainable surprise for its guests- a matchbook of individual chili seeds, for growing peppers in one’s own kitchen garden.
The cargotecture restaurant will take residence on the shores of Southbank until late 2013, bringing their bright food and drink for tourists and locals alike.
Images ©Lori Zimmer for Inhabitat