Product branding meets architecture to conceive a skin for a mobile retail space

  • Architects

  • Location

    Rajkot, Gujarat
  • Design team

    Vishal Akabari, Chetna Shethiya
  • Client

    Dev Mobile
  • Project area

    152 Square meters
  • Completion of project

    March-June 2017
  • Photographs

    Ar. Nouman Malik, Purple Crab Design Studio
June 21 / 2018

A residential building with the ground and first few storeys dedicated to commercial and retail stores or a plaza is a common occurrence. And even more common is perhaps the glass facades that don each bay. Each is distinguished from the other by means of a print logo, respective hoardings or colours. Architecture in its primal form is shelter. It is then interwoven with art or art unintentionally imprints architecture. Branding by solely by means of architecture can be tricky, and even ‘gimmicky’. But I-Con Architects and Urban Planners devised a skin that fulfils the inherent function of shelter but derives from branding and conceptually borrowing from mobile phones. The underlying annotation of ‘signal and connectivity’ is derived and translated to design.

The mobile store spans across two floors of a residential building. The ground floor is a stilt that is used for parking which leads to a mobile accessories shop. A flight of steps at the stilt entrance lead the user to the first floor which is the retail store. The staircase commences on a balcony-cum-entrance lobby. The project entailed revamping the space and creating an enclosure for the balcony. The project does not entail construction from foundation level or deployment of permanent structural members. Yet it encompasses an architectural in spirit given the use of material and play of the vision from inside-out and vice-versa. A brick ‘jaali’ is created that rises from the balcony and rises creating a façade for the retail store. Though brick ‘jaalis’ are a popular feature within contemporary Indian architecture, I-Con Architects and Urban Planners got customised bricks manufactured for the project. Each clay brick measures (230 X 75 X 100) mm and host 6 holes on the flat (230 X 100) mm surface. No mortar was used to create the brick ‘jaali’. A ‘C’ channel is fixed onto the balcony slab with vertical steel rods attached to it. The bricks are laid on the channel with 19mm steel rods passing through its outermost 2 holes. The rods extend upwards from the brick ‘jaali’ to indicate antennas.

The ‘jaali’ inherently showcases ‘connectivity’. As a porous fabric, the skin allows for visual interior-exterior communication. Those travelling on the road are captivated by the structure. A ‘window; cut-out placed in the ‘jaali’ further facilitates the inside-outside connect. In the interiors, the bricks create an illuminated yet sheltered space for buyers. The balcony and ground stilt can be used as a spill-over for buyers to linger or engage in exhibitions and displays. Planters are strategically placed over manholes to cover the same. The staircase as seen was built in steel when the site was acquired. Bricks were placed on the treads and the ‘jaali’ detail continued to become the railing.

Once inside, the counters are designed along the periphery in a rectangular loop arrangement. This increases the angle view. Central seating generates a two-way moment, creating curiosity to browse around and engage in cross shopping. The store is cladded in manufactured bricks in two sizes; (80 X 80 X 220) mm and (80 X 80 X 340) mm. The flooring is also finished in bricks. To stay attuned to the earthy aesthetic created with the bricks, furniture is carved from waste wood and glass. Paper tube lighting is used on the ceilings. The customers can stay seated and experience a two way perception of the display (shelf and the counter). The continuous display shelf depicts the telecommunication frequency graph with a warm inviting brick backdrop.