Archmongers architects were commissioned to design the full fit out for London’s first independent natural history shop in Hackney, London. Eastern Biological intends to inspire an appreciation for the natural world, and to encourage scientific thinking.
The brief given by the client and business owner Alfred Addis was to look to the Galapagos Islands for inspiration, as it marks a place historically significant in the study of natural history. The two levels of the shop represent the varying heights or ‘zones’ of the Islands: the Ground floor is an all-green landscape linking to the higher rainier zones where forests of Scalesia trees grow, while the lowest coastal zone inspires the all-blue room for the Basement.
Custom made wall cladding was designed to line all the internal walls on both levels, onto which a variety of elements can be hung to display stock; folded steel shelves, hardwood dowels and laser cut pin-board walls. Different tones of green have been incorporated into the ground floor design varying from the walls, shelves, with preserved moss covering segments towards the rear – these elements reflect the dense vegetation spread across the Galapagos. A vivarium has also been designed to house the resident chameleon, Murloc.
On the ground floor, a freestanding central table is made from several sections of smooth cast green concrete supported by steel legs, which evokes the disparate nature of the archipelago’s separated islands, formed by underwater volcanoes. The table can display a variety of carefully curated products, ranging from animal-themed stationery to plant-inspired ceramics. Plastic cladding made from recycled plastic has been used on the counter and various surfaces on both floors, visually emulating a contemporary geology.
The basement level has a central table, which can be used both for display of stock and as a focal point for workshops and forums. An upholstered reading nook built into a corner is a place where customers can browse, encouraging a return to embracing physical books, particularly beautifully-illustrated educational picture books.