The experience of designing a shop without a specific use was a special one. The elongated proportions of the land owned by the Client , demanded a particular approach not helped by the fact that he was not sure what to sell in this shop. To make matters worse, we were facing other issues such as a chaotic urban fabric as well as height and economic constraints.
We cut the land into two halves on the north-south axis and divided the space into four separate mezzanines. To respond to height limits, we decided to build mostly below the ground level. Physical and visual fluency of space was used to attract customers.
As the tight budget limited means of vertical circulation to stairs, shallow stairways were designed in response. To attract visitors to the deepest parts of the store we both deepened and widened the interior views from the street level using colorful strips over plain monochrome surfaces and extending the vibrant color of the entrance frame to the north down to the similarly vibrant southern light well.
The client was not sure whether to use the whole building as a single store, so we provided him with the possibility of subdividing the space into four independent shops each with their own means of access control.
Of utmost importance in our facade design was the location of the property in a mostly characterless, developer-built district bar an historic house facing our project, and belonging to our client.
Our discussions with the Client persuaded him to maintain the historic house, renovate it, and let a dialogue happen between the old and the new building. This will include reflections of the old building on the glazed facade of the new, and an image of the old framed by the new.
The Client is now in a position to offer a vivid antidote to an otherwise boring, chaotic passageway, on top of the flexibility he can enjoy in the ways he uses the shop.