UPI Shop at Omotesando / Happenstance Collective [HaCo]

© Katsu Tanaka© Katsu Tanaka© Katsu Tanaka© Katsu Tanaka+ 34

© Katsu Tanaka
© Katsu Tanaka

Text description provided by the architects. This outdoor goods store, in the heart of Omotesando, Tokyo’s most exciting shopping area, provided an opportunity to reflect on two phenomena that developed during the covid pandemic and recent lockdowns. One is people’s sudden desire to reconnect with nature; and second, the rise of online shopping which challenges the future of physical retail spaces.

© Katsu Tanaka
© Katsu Tanaka

Over the past 2 decades, especially in Tokyo, foreseeing the rise of the Internet, retail has been transformed into an “experience” by designers competing to create the ultimate entertainment and fascination with the experience of visiting. the interiors themselves. But the user experience of the Internet, now inside our cell phones, has managed to be constantly present, aiming to be as exciting as real experiences, if not more. Brands can’t just try to attract customers to sell them products; retail spaces should be a source of excitement, lessons and shared experiences.

© Katsu Tanaka
© Katsu Tanaka
Plan
Plan
© Katsu Tanaka
© Katsu Tanaka

This boutique tries to focus on creating an appropriate context where the outdoor items on sale can be understood, tested and explained through staff demonstrations and workshops. This shop becomes a kind of diorama in those fascinating museums of nature and anthropology that we loved to visit during our childhood.

© Katsu Tanaka
© Katsu Tanaka

The space is divided into a “landscaped space” designed as a real nature, causing a feeling of being outdoors; and the “exhibition area” expressed as an architecture bringing a feeling of being inside and from which one can enjoy observing the landscape. Visitors are welcome to walk around both areas.

Sections
Sections

This dichotomy is formalized by a strong diagonal which, deliberately ignoring the geometry of the existing structure, clearly defines the border between these two areas. This division is so strong that it crushes the boundary between the interior and exterior of the existing architecture itself.

© Katsu Tanaka
© Katsu Tanaka

The Landscape area, developed by Yousuke Yamaguchi (Saikai Engei), was designed to be experienced as real as possible, with its ever-changing vegetation, canopy shadows and the murmur of the stream running through it.

© Katsu Tanaka
© Katsu Tanaka

The lighting, developed by Shinji Yamaguchi (On & Off), not only evolves in intensity and tonal temperature recreating the different times of the day but also provides the vegetation during the night hours with the light frequencies necessary for photosynthesis. Simple household air fans, installed on the ceiling, ensure that the vegetation is hit by the breeze from different directions. Such challenges for landscape design, construction and long-term maintenance involve effort and commitment; but at the same time it brings a sense of responsible understanding on the part of humans to the needs of nature.

© Katsu Tanaka
© Katsu Tanaka

The contrast between this real nature and the bare concrete makes the existing structure become part of the landscape. It is especially moving to see this interior landscape at night when visitors gather sipping beer around a campfire reflected in the water of the creek, and their shadows projecting into the concrete walls, still marked by the previous interior constructions.

© Katsu Tanaka
© Katsu Tanaka
© Katsu Tanaka
© Katsu Tanaka

The display area, like in other HaCo stores designed for UPI, is simply solved by wooden tool boards which become the only visible man-made material in place. Wood panels also finish the ceilings and floors throughout this area. To avoid creating back rooms and storage rooms, this is solved by designing the main wall of the tool board as an openable closet. Instead of door handles, the panels can be opened by pulling climbing ropes attached to the perforations of the tool board.

© Katsu Tanaka
© Katsu Tanaka
Plan
Plan

The toolboard display walls are filled with both sales products and personal artifacts that the UPI team have collected throughout their life experiences in the wild, many with people. responsible for the brands they import, emphasizing the human side of the company.

© Katsu Tanaka
© Katsu Tanaka

Contrary to the organicity of the “landscape space”, the “exhibition space” is designed in a search for order and repetition. All surfaces are defined according to the standard dimensions of the tool board, reducing material loss, and their geometries are precisely controlled so that each joint is in its place. The construction is kept simple and honest, not hiding the humble thinness of the tool boards and exposing its substructure if necessary. This essentiality of the construction recalls the functional ephemeral of camping structures.

Diagram
Diagram

A round table and a few stools are the only loose pieces of furniture in the entire store. To integrate them into both the architecture and the landscape of this space, they were designed with very simple, almost primitive forms, and made using natural, unprocessed materials such as “kaya” thatch straw. and “shikkui” lime plaster. Involving artisans to produce such items on-site, and not just off-the-shelf furniture, once again emphasizes UPI’s human approach to nature.

© Katsu Tanaka
© Katsu Tanaka



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