Hotel Empanada

Photo: Carles Baiges Camprubí

This advertisement for a Barcelona snack bar franchise contains an image of a local landmark building by the late Ricardo Bofill together with the following copy:

“The universe is always sending you signals… This one is telling you to give yourself a treat.”

In other words, whenever you see this building –or by extension any other object that resembles an Argentinian dumpling– you should remember to make your way to the nearest outet of this franchise and enjoy one of these savoury delicacies.

The building in question, however, was never intended by its architect to resemble an empanada. We know this because Mr Bofill christened this project differently, namely “Hotel Vela,” intending it to conjure a sail. And this despite the fact that many fellow architects detected a certain resemblance to another coastal hotel constructed elsewhere some years before.

Will the Barcelona landmark now be popularly referred to as “Hotel Empanada”? An empanada is certainly more fitting than a sail as far as architectural metaphors go. A sail is an elegant, thin membrane designed to capture wind energy for the propulsion of vessels; whereas an empanada is a tasteful, fattening nutrient consumed to fill a void. Who knows, “Hotel Empanada” just might stick.

In any case, this advertisement tells us two things: Firstly, that the best ad campaigns always contain references to local cultural particularities; and secondly, that the vast majority of people never see the same things in buildings that architects do; not even advertising creatives, which many architects are increasingly resembling.

The next thing this franchise should do is expand to Dubai…

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