Having as a starting point a shoe store built in the late ’90s, this new commercial space—which targets a very specific (and demanding) market with a wide range of products—required a project designed to have great flexibility in the presentation of the products, generate a space with a strong, recognizable and repeatable image, while achieving it at a very low cost.
The pre-existent drywall false ceiling was demolished and the wallpaper on the walls removed. Lifting the degraded floating floors revealed a concrete subfloor in great condition. A concrete column was hidden behind four floor-to-ceiling mirrors.
Returning the space to its rawest characteristics exposed its strongest features: a rediscovered ceiling height and a phenomenal transparency to the street.
To achieve the store’s goals, the approach had to be very pragmatic, based on a simple gesture that could organize the space in its entirety and resourcing to cost-effective solutions that wouldn’t require expensive finishes or maintenance.
The resulting design is an ode to the value of the materials as they are: their frankness, their natural image and their intrinsic qualities.
The exposed ceilings, perimetral walls and infrastructure are painted black, toning down their presence in the background.
A large “U” shaped surface warmly embraces the visitors, serving as the product showcase and, through its deconstruction, designing the store counter.
The yellow cement wood boards are perforated in a pattern that allows the product display area to be infinitely reconfigured with sucupira wood pegs—serving both as shelves and hangers. There are minimal cuts to the boards and no leftovers.
These boards are supported by a galvanized steel structure that reinforces the “U” shape and deemphasizes the irregular perimeter of the store behind it.
The geometry of this plane relates to the perimetral walls in such a way that it allows for a dressing room, storage and working spaces behind it.
Hanging from steel cables, along one of the glass store sides, there are four displays, constructed from the same cement wood boards and galvanized steel profiles used before.
All in all, the entire store is composed by four materials, in their raw, pure state: pre-existent concrete, cement wood boards, galvanized steel and wood.
With great simplicity it was possible to produce a very rich, complex space. Though each part may appear crude when regarded individually, their ensemble results in a welcoming place of great warmth and finish, defined by the qualities of the honest, exposed materials, the carefully crafted details, its wonderful transparency and its extremely judicious lighting.
Project name: The Caveman
Architecture: Tiago do Vale Architects
Architecture team: Tiago do Vale, Maria João Araújo, with Adele Pinna, Camille Martin
Project year: 2016–2017
Location: Ponte de Lima, Portugal
Client: The Caveman
Construction: ARU, Arquitectura e Reabilitação Urbana
Construction year: 2017
Construction area: 667 ft2 (62 m2)
Retro furniture: Vintage Alternative Store
Photography: João Morgado
About Tiago do Vale
Architect by the University of Coimbra, was Senator and Member of the Assembly of the University.
Editor of Design Media Publishing’s “Urban Complex” book, and its Chinese edition by Liaoning Science and Technology Publishing House “城市综合体”.
Published throughout the world, Tiago do Vale has given lectures and signed articles on architecture, urban planning and rehabilitation in several publications.
Juror (on behalf of the Portuguese Architects Board) of the João de Almada Award in 2016 and 2017 (Portugal).
Juror of the DAS Awards 2016 (Moldavia).
Curator of the “Mesturas III, International Architecture Encounters Galicia-Portugal” in 2017 (Spain).
Curator of the “Mesturas II, International Architecture Encounters Galicia-Portugal” in 2016 (Portugal).
Curator of the “Mesturas, International Architecture Encounters Galicia-Portugal” in 2015 (Spain).
Curator of the “Urban Dialogues, International Architecture Congress” in 2014 (Portugal).
His work has been exhibited both in Portugal and abroad.
Winner in the American Architecture Prize 2017
Shortlisted for the German Design Award 2018
Finalist in the COAG 2017 Architecture Awards (Spain)
Bronze Winner in the American Architecture Prize 2016
Winner in the 2015 A+ Awards
Winner of the Professor Joaquim Veríssimo Serrão Award 2015 of the Portuguese History Academy (collaboration)
Selected for the National Award for Wood Architecture 2015
Winner in the 2014 Building of the Year Awards
First Honorable Mention IHRU 2014 Award
Shortlisted for the National Urban Rehabilitation Award 2014
Shortlisted for the Construir Awards 2014
Shortlisted for the Rehabilitation in Construction Awards 2014