With a name inspired by the farmhouse rums of the French Caribbean, Bar Agricole embodies both the urban and the agricultural. Designed by Joshua Aidlin, founding partner of Aidlin Darling Design, the restaurant is both down-to-earth and sophisticated in its approach to food, drink, and the dining experience.
As a primary spatial gesture, the existing long, tall warehouse interior is given a sense of intimacy and scale by a wooden “hull.” The hull is crafted of reclaimed whiskey barrel oak, milled into thin strips and lapped in a scale-like texture. Delicate glass sculptures descend from skylights above the hull, puncturing through the wood ceiling and distributing daylight throughout the dining room, while promoting both natural ventilation and passive cooling. Their airy and fluid lines are formed by warped pyrex cylinders, fused into curvaceous glittering volumes that float gently overhead.
The restaurant’s bars, banquettes, and service spaces are arrayed as furniture-like objects within this interior volume. Two bars, made of board-formed concrete and recycled 100-year-old barn beams, are anchors of space and activity. Contrasting their orthogonal geometry are the sinuous banquettes, also of cast concrete. In the banquettes, however, the concrete is a seemingly impossible one-inch thick ribbon, achieved using a new Ductal concrete. More recycled wood, here riddled with wormholes, warms the concrete for the sitting body and links the booths with the overall project palette.
The dining experience does not end at the perimeter of the building envelope. Through a deep steel and glass facade, the dining room connects out to a courtyard and biodynamic garden. Homegrown organic herbs for artisanal cocktails are harvested from a series of raised beds, which directly adjoin outdoor dining tables—reconnecting the city dweller to earth and agriculture while providing respite from the urban streetscape.
The construction uses durable and sustainable materials, fabricated either on site or within a 15-mile radius of the site, to achieve the greatest effect in a minimal and efficient manner. The restaurant is located within a LEED Gold building and benefits from the base building’s solar arrays and living roof. Bar Agricole achieved LEED CI Platinum certification.
After earning his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Cincinnati, Aidlin founded a furniture design studio that later expanded to incorporate architectural design. His work explores the principles of design for multi-sensory human experience through a broad range of project scales. Aidlin’s dedication to design is augmented by his lifelong interest in the arts and by his strong sense of responsibility towards the environment.