MAR SHOPPING ALGARVE _ FOOD COURT - LOULÉ
Project provided from ATELIER NINI ANDRADE SILVA
The large arcs rising from the floor connect to the ceiling, forming three-dimensionally curved domes that run along the upper surface. The movement created by these lines, the perspective developed by the curved surfaces of varying sizes overlapping both in the front and in the back, and the shape of the space that is cut out by the ridges formed by the arcs, generate a unique aspect here. The space under these ceilings is raised slightly from the surrounding mall, and is encompassed by low walls, enveloped in a different kind of air. It can be accessed by the stairs in a cut in the surrounding walls, or by a slowly rising ramp. The soft colors of wood and brick create a gentle contrast against the white. The sunlight passing through the deep-set skylights is subdued, and the light reflecting and diffusing off the domed ceiling always creates shadows of intermediate strength. This area is located in the southernmost part of Portugal, and the exterior is bathed in the intense, brilliant sunlight typical to Southern Europe. We have tried to create a space that is wrapped in a contrastingly soft light, bringing in touches that are reminiscent of Northern Europe.
The location is Loulé, and the Algarve region, where the city is located, is a popular resort location in Europe where a premium is placed on beaches and sunshine, being swamped with people on holiday from both within Portugal and abroad during the summer. The project was a commission to design the food court in a new shopping center that would open in this location. It was commissioned by IKEA Centres, and the shopping center was adjacent to an IKEA store that sold IKEA furniture. The food court zone comprised an area of approximately 4700 square meters, with 21 restaurants, but most of the tenant spaces for the restaurants had already been decided, and we were tasked with designing the remaining 2850 square meters that comprised the common areas. Another immovable condition was that the flows of people going shopping and to the movies would intersect with the food court, so the main focus of the plan became setting up a space where people could enjoy their food and drink undisturbed.
We came up with the idea of raising the floor above the surrounding flows of people. Although the space is a contiguous part of the shopping center, it is a place that is buffered from the people moving through with other flows and purposes, allowing people to enjoy their meals undisturbed. The height of the raised floor is 0.50 meters, and the wall is 1.50 meters high. The former is a height that doesn’t pose a real obstacle, and can be reached via four shallow steps. The latter is of a height that conveys the lively atmosphere of people eating, while shielding what they are actually eating from view. It is also the perfect height for the backs of sofas. Three such areas are located throughout.
For our design motif, we decided to capitalize on the theme of a “space with a mixture of Portuguese and Northern European tastes,” which came from the same shopping center building with plans that had been completed by a different architect. The Northern European elements reference Sweden, which is where the client, IKEA, is based. They are expressed in this food court in the bricks, curved lines, light wood and white colors, and the soft light that is characteristic of buildings, interiors, and furniture with Scandinavian designs. In terms of Portuguese elements, the dunes that are formed by the wind on nearby sand beaches are reflected in the shape of the ceiling, and the texture and yellowish color of what might look like the sand on the beach, or even the sun-dried bricks that are used for traditional homes in the region, are reflected in the brick finish.
We implemented the same design theme for other areas that we were commissioned to design, which were the shared restrooms for the shopping center, to pursue a unique and inviting space. In particular, we tried an unconventional design for the sink. The large mirrors hanging down from the ceiling, with built-in faucets and soap dispensers, also serve to separate the men’s room from the ladies’ room. However, the space between the mirrors and the countertop is open, connecting to the other side. The enormous countertop sink is shared by men and women. This not only creates an impact as a large-scale piece, but adds fun through the slight sense of confusion and ambivalence caused by opening up the restroom space, which should, by rights, be closed, and merging a space that is usually clearly divided between men and women.
Shopping centers are commercial spaces that exist in cities all over the world, each containing brand-name shops of similar design. However, we believed that even for this type of space, we could pursue a unique spatial design that could only be developed in that particular location. We hope that people will come to recognize this as a distinctive brand for this place.
TEXT by NOBUAKI TANAKA
MAR SHOPPING ALGARVE _ FOOD COURT
MAIN ARCHITECT / INTERIOR DESIGNER :
ATELIER NINI ANDRADE SILVA
Although this project was executed by ATELIER NINI ANDRADE SILVA, Nini has granted us permission to introduce it on this website.
As the main architect, Nobuaki Tanaka was involved in the entire project from design to supervision during his time at her Atelier.