Barsa Taberna - Toronto (Canada)

A Spanish atmosphere in downtown Toronto

The disorderly architecture of an old basement proved to be the ideal location for the Barsa Taberna tapas restaurant
Lisa Petrole
John Tong
John Tong
Parallel General Contractor

For his first restaurant, a Spanish-inspired Tapas eatery called Barsa Taberna, Aras Azadian had originally been looking for a location with a larger floor space than the 278 square metres available in the premises in Market Street, but on seeing it he realised it was the perfect place for his project. To others it might have seemed a bit of a gamble given that this former Royal Canadian Mounted Police stable was a cramped, dark and rundown basement lacking electricity and windows. But Azadian had very clear ideas about what he wanted, as his vision of tapas restaurants had been formed during his studies in Barcelona where these premises often owe much of their unique personality to a disorderly layout. He had returned to the Spanish city while working on the project together with designer John Tong in an attempt to capture its hidden essence. However, the renovation work proved complex as it had to comply with a 2014 building code while satisfying the even tighter constraints imposed on a building of historic interest constructed on reclaimed land in the 19th century. Each variant involved exhausting bureaucratic negotiations. As a result, it was about eleven months before the eatery was finally opened. The finished project elegantly combines narrow spaces, old exposed brick walls, stone arches and centuries-old wood-beamed ceilings with contemporary materials, hi-tech furnishings and distinctive elements of Hispanic and Catalan culture, recreating a unique, intimate and engaging atmosphere. The bar zone, one of the two main areas of the restaurant, features a recurring graphic design reminiscent of the work of Gaudí. This appears on the floor in the form of adhesive laid on fresh concrete and then treated with epoxy paint; as a surface covering on the Corian top and sides of the counter; and on the wall opposite the bar in the form of an arrangement of 1400 bottles of different colours all cut by hand by Azadian’s friends. Customers at the bar sit on stools made of steel and recycled solid pinewood, a clear reference to the Spanish tapas bars which use objects such as old barrels and wooden crates for seats. If the three versions of the stools are used simultaneously they create a sense of disorder, contrasting pleasantly with the neat row of bright red chairs lined up in front of the tables opposite. In another reference to Spain, above the counter there are three suspended LED metal ceiling lamps reminiscent of charging bulls. Stone arches cut into the side wall lead to the restaurant area. To make up for the lack of natural light, the accent lighting has been supplemented by a large backlit mural designed by John Tong and artist Pascal Paquette. The theme of the mural is once again the energy and threatening chaos of charging angry bulls. The dominant design element of this area is the use of porcelain floor tiles from the Frame collection by Design TaleStudio. The expressive power of the Majolica accent with its continuous changes of scale enhances and unites the architecture and furnishings.

DesignTaleStudio, Frame collection
porcelain stoneware
Technische Eigenschaften
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): 0,2%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): compliant
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): ≥ 35 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R9
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Zertifizierungen und Auszeichnungen
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