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September 12, 2022
Sordo Madaleno’s design for Ling Ling restaurant combines traditional Mexican architecture with lush biophilic touches.
By: Petra Loho
Located on the 56th floor of a skyscraper on Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City and offering chef-driven, Asian-inspired dishes, Ling Ling opened in November 2021. Patrons arrive at an oval-shaped lobby framed by a screen which was composed by extracting elements of the restaurant’s lettering, and which calls to mind a celosia, or a traditional Mexican breeze wall.
From there, guests transition into the casual dining area, surrounded by a bar and sushi bar, followed by the inner salon and dining room. But the terrace is the heart of Ling Ling. It’s a space full of lush vegetation featuring a wooden portico and plenty of natural light pouring into the triple-glazed atrium.
“We create intimate projects full of emotions and personality and not just bland, neutral spaces, which don’t say anything,” Sordo Madaleno’s project leader, Fernanda Patiño, says about the design approach. Patiño is the interior design director of the multidisciplinary Mexican architecture firm, which was first established in 1937.

Framed by foliage and overlooking the atrium is a hand-painted mural by Mexican artist Paola Delfín. Titled “Guardian of Nature”, the design was inspired by Xochitl, the Aztec goddess of beauty, flowers, and love. In addition to serving as an accent wall, the piece is part of Fundación Arte Abierto, a program initiated by the Sordo Madaleno founder.
Home-grown Mexican pine and poplar wood were selected for the terrace’s portico and the interior’s vaulted ceiling, the arches of which are another nod to local style. “We made a modern interpretation of it by slicing [the ceiling] into a stereotomy,” Patiño says about the 165 unique elements, adding that this structure helped bring down the scale, creating a cozier environment.
Across the restaurant’s wedge-shaped floorplan, a flamboyant collection of local, exotic, and dried plants provide visual cohesion. “We think of them as theatrical props,” says Patiño. “In particular spots, the greens become a bit denser to create these little nooks where people can have a more intimate experience.”
She explains that with ceilings over ten feet tall, dried plants became necessary as restrictions precluded the hydraulic systems needed for irrigation. “We also play with seasonality,” Patiño says about the choice of plants, using the smell of blooming flowers as a biophilic design element. “From season to season, patrons will experience a different atmosphere,” she remarks. “That really makes the project come alive.”
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