Oficina Bravo: A Guide to Coffee and Ice Cream Shops in Santiago de Chile


HomeHome / News / Oficina Bravo: A Guide to Coffee and Ice Cream Shops in Santiago de Chile

Aug 08, 2023

Oficina Bravo: A Guide to Coffee and Ice Cream Shops in Santiago de Chile

Sebastián Bravo leads Oficina Bravo, an architectural practice founded in

Sebastián Bravo leads Oficina Bravo, an architectural practice founded in Santiago de Chile that has been developing projects with a clear strategy: to contribute to the city by efficiently using architectural, economic, and constructive resources through renovation and remodeling. Among their projects are spaces that openly interact with the immediate context, including works of patrimonial, administrative, and residential value such as Casa Compañía and Zagreb Office, as well as a large series of gastronomic and commercial spaces such as Felix Café and Apolo Helados.

Due to its design process and its ability to transform and restore spaces, Oficina Bravo was selected by ArchDaily as one of the best new architectural practices of 2023. They make a point of talking with clients, understanding them, and involving them in the process. This, they say, is the only thing that ensures that the ideas behind the project survive with dignity.

We have selected seven coffee and ice cream shops in Santiago that were designed by Oficina Bravo, while also conducting an interview to get to know their inspirations, working methods, and future projects. The result is a true daily guide for you to enjoy their work, their design process, and a good cup of coffee.

Year: 2019Area: 52 m2

Located within Ca­so­na Com­pa­ñía - a project for the re­con­ver­sion and enhancement of a heritage property in the Yun­gay neighborhood of Santiago - the café was conceived as the gateway to this space of creation and collaboration for the Creative Industries.The architectural project defines a metal grid inside, which organizes the new spaces and serves as the structural support for the façade. Being adjacent to the façade, the café is a linearly organized space, taking advantage of its relationship with the sequence of windows on the façade. A concrete bar on site and galvanized steel tables and chairs by Invisible Objetos are the only elements used to give functionality to the space.

Year: 2022Area: 110 m2

This is the renovation project of Bovary, a café with 20 years of history in the Infante neighborhood, at the corner of Julio Prado and Los Jesuitas in Providencia. The proposal is very simple, a block covered in ceramic tiles houses the bar and organizes the customer service area, maintaining the original layout. The furniture and lighting are simple, and the intensive use of color allows for the construction of a new identity.

Year: 2022Area: 35 m2

The location of the premises - a sidewalk exposed to the north, devoid of trees, and facing a public transportation corridor on Avenida Providencia - gave rise to the idea that Apolo should be a capsule. A space isolated from the heat and noise of the street. To achieve this, we proposed a rather hermetic facade, composed of a steel door, a partition made of translucent glass blocks, a rectangular display case, and a seating bar taken from public transportation stops. The interior is a saturated space that, through the use of different yellow ceramic coverings, a mirrored stainless steel ceiling, an LED ellipse of light, and a metal furniture/column, accentuates the idea of a timeless capsule.

Year: 2022Area: 155 m2

The factory and ice cream parlor El Toldo Azul occupies a complex of 2 houses with a continuous facade on a corner in the Infante neighborhood, in Providencia. This place had functioned as an art gallery and its offices for years. The proposal is organized in a respectful manner, acknowledging the unique character of each of the 2 properties. In the space where the gallery used to be - an elongated, bright, and open space - we located the ice cream parlor and the ice cream factory. The old house, which is more compartmentalized, was adapted to accommodate storage areas, dressing rooms, an office, a hot kitchen, and a delivery area. In order to preserve the gallery space, the aim was to maintain spatial unity, linking the factory and the ice cream parlor through a glass cabinet that serves as a support for the customer service area, unifying the treatment of the ceiling, walls, and flooring.

Year: 2018Area: 18 m2

Justicia is a small establishment that offers specialty coffee and food to go. In 18 m2, we proposed a counter as the main element: a wall covered in textured blue tiles that extends as flooring, aiming to transform the café into an extension of the public space. This counter organizes a compact kitchen and a 3-meter-long bar with a seating capacity for 6 diners.

Year: 2022Area: 26 m2

Singular Coffee Suecia is a street-facing coffee bar. The facade of the premises has a system of folding steel and glass doors that allow for fully opening the frontage and eliminate the boundaries between the interior and exterior. The flooring consists of an exterior concrete pavement, which is also used as the cladding for the coffee bar. Except for the stainless steel countertop, there are no indications that you are in an interior space.

Year: 2021Area: 54 m2

The Felix project takes over a staggered space that has served as a laundry for the past 30 years. After emptying the available space - making the 2 levels of the premises visible - we designed a translucent shelving system that resolves storage, the separation between the support area and the customer service area, and the coffee bar within the same construction system. The structure consists of blue-colored steel tubes and bars, reinforced glass panels, and a panel clad in tiles, creating a simple and recognizable visual identity.

How did you approach architecture?I didn't really have to think much about studying architecture, I was always interested in construction. I obtained my degree in Architecture from the University of Chile. In 2007, I pursued postgraduate studies in the Architecture and Technologies program at the Torcuato di Tella University in Buenos Aires. In Argentina, I worked alongside Busnelli Arquitectura, and between 2005 and 2012, I worked as an architect in various architecture studios such as Sabbagh Arquitectos, Cristián Fernandez Arquitectos, DAW Arquitectos, among others.

In 2013, I founded Oficina Bravo. I decided to establish the studio mainly because I had always been working simultaneously on independent projects, and I realized that I needed more time to do them properly. I wanted to give myself the space to be able to do so.

How does your office operate?

In our office, there are two inputs. First, we approach projects strategically and develop very clear ideas regarding each of the interventions we undertake. Secondly, we emphasize the importance of the construction material as the foundation of the construction process.

Today, we are seven people, but it has varied over time. We are five architects, one draftswoman, and there is always an intern. Although I lead the office, each architect takes on a project and has a certain level of autonomy to develop it, and this approach has worked well. There is a common vision, but there is also room for incorporating ideas and adding them as we go along.

What is your design process like?

During the week we have a meeting where we get together and discuss the status of each of the projects. We try not to separate who develops and who supervises the work, but rather to provide continuity. Especially because renovation projects involve on-site work that comes after the initial design phase and requires adjustments to unforeseen circumstances, discoveries, or findings that arise during the process.

With clients, we usually end up thinking about more than one project. I think it's a concern I've had over the years, understanding that each client has their own agenda, but there is also an overarching agenda that has a character, and it's our job to incorporate it without turning it into a dispute or imposing our point of view. It's about understanding what is being commissioned and what is truly needed beyond what one can imagine. When we work with the same client or when we receive a recurring assignment, we can build upon what we have done before and create a coherent language. It's not about creating chains where everything is the same; it's more like a series where one can recognize the evolution and nod to the initial operations.

Something common is that usually, the first operation is emptying, reclaiming the void, and then defining a new order. When the projects are on a small scale, such as Justicia Café, the elements are on the boundary between a piece of furniture and a constructed element. It's something we play with, suggesting that a piece of furniture can become a significant element. I see, for example, in the case of cafes and the bar, the bar as the defining element, and try pushing it to the extreme. We also bring together the pieces and parts to form more recognizable elements, so that they have a greater impact on the configuration of the space. Today these operations also contribute to making the place recognizable because, in the end, they are also material for social media.

What projects are on the way?

We continue working with Toldo Azul, in another location. We are accompanying them in the process of looking for a larger space to establish a new factory in Santiago. In parallel, we are also working with Bovary, who have a new corner project. And we are building a bakery in Rancagua. It's a sourdough bakery. And of course, we are looking for possible new customers with new projects.

Fabian Dejtiar Antonia Piñeiro Year: Area: Year: Area: Year: Area: Year: Area: Year: Area: Year: Area: Year: Area: How did you approach architecture? How does your office operate? What is your design process like? What projects are on the way?