Chiwawa

Chiwawa is a casual local restaurant renovated from a long-abandoned building highly regarded as one of the top ten eyesores in Memphis. Located  in Overton Square , the design concept focused on physically opening the existing building and creating a more inviting pedestrian atmosphere that would take advantage of Overton Squares pedestrian setting and anchor the districts western most edge.
Minimizing cost was a major factor in design decisions. A significant portion of the budget was spent merely bringing the existing building- abandoned for over 25 years- to minimum code requirements and in providing new mechanical systems. Architecturally the idea was to reuse as much as possible and use inexpensive materials, plywood, corrugated metal, and wood decking as well as simple construction means and methods.
The existing structure is elevated several feet above the street and required a new accessible entrance, the long ramp runs are broken up with terraced wood decking and the roof edge extended creating a welcoming front porch. The exterior soffits as well as the interior ceilings were fitted with plywood panels, generating a continuity between exterior and interior spaces.
With a mere 1,400sf footprint the dining areas were quite small, by relocating the kitchen to the basement, and moving the stairs and restrooms to the western side of the building, the entire eastern façade is opened to become contiguous with a 1,500sf patio essentially doubling the dinning space. The roof was also extended over the patio continuing the overlap of interior and exterior spaces. Corrugated metal clads the exterior, creating a continuous east-west wrapper that invites pedestrians to move through the entire space.
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