Carmo Concept Store

Lisbon, Portugal

Carmo Concept Store

Year – 2018
Client – Degrau | Emerge
Location – Rua do Carmo, Lisbon, Portugal  
GPS – 38°42'44.3"N 9°08'22.1"W
Area – 80 sq.m
Budget – 60,000 €
Status – Built
Partners – Albuquerque Goinhas, Cristina de Mendonça, Nuno Griff
Project Team – Marcelo Grilo, Marion Gouges, Rui Neto 
Creative Direction – Ivo Purvis
Scenic Lighting – Carlos Arroja
Window Display Designer – Mariana Riscado
Photography – Mercês Tomaz Gomes (MTG)

The extinction of the iconic "Aillaud e Lello" bookstore, in Lisbon (project by Cassiano Branco, 1931), led to a change in the commercial activity of the store, converting it into retail, the new space DEGRAU. The preservation of heritage and memory was the main point of departure for a project that, although respectful of the legacy, was not intended extinguish itself in the past by doing a simple rehabilitation.

Thus, and above all, the project is made pondering on the very idea of conservation. Here the architect assumes the responsibility to discern what effectively has a relevance that justifies preservation, after analysing carefully the various qualities of the space in which he is intervening. Often as a society, we take buildings and objects for granted simply because they are familiar to us because we are accustomed to their presence because they are old when in truth nothing is glimpsed from the original with the multiple transformations they underwent. We preserve things that no longer have real qualities.

Fortunately, in this case, it was possible to identify the beautiful original piece of 1931. Therefore, the project is based first and foremost on the return of the space to its original appearance, thus eliminating all the subsequent interventions. It is this original configuration that the project assumes as the basis of the intervention and it is also from this original configuration that the project develops its most contemporary facet.

In this process the main object of rehabilitation (the big cabinet) returns to its original splendor, gaining autonomy and prominence by releasing itself from the ceilings. The furniture becomes simultaneously the scene and the main actor. By contrast, the lighting system is assumed as a contemporary art intervention, giving the space a myriad of possible environments.

Moreover, some small tricks and many constructive details allow the versatility of the use: It is possible to reconfigure the totality of the disposition with movable shelves with integrated light when they change place, the light accompanies them. Some sections of the furniture are in fact hidden doors, allowing access to technical areas, storage, and personnel access.

It was a goal that the fruition of the restored store was neither nostalgic nor predatory. Aiming this space could belong both to all those who had it in their effective memory and to the new audiences, for whom the heritage of 1930 is still new.

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