The Conceptual Retail Experience

Alara is a part retail, part gallery, and part showroom composition, running up 3 stories of pure genius by world renouned architect- David Adjaye. It covers a total of 965sm and is located in the heart of Victoria Island, in Lagos island. Commissioned by Reni Folawiyo, the project merges fashion, architecture, and interior design. It is the first of its kind in Nigeria and the bar has been set extremely high.

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Project Description

According to Adjaye Associates, “[p]roviding West Africa with its first signature retail and lifestyle environment, the Alara store will promote emerging talent while establishing a creative hub and an essential new destination for Lagos. The site is on Akin Olugbade Street, in a part residential / part commercial street, in Victoria Island, Lagos. The concept store is ti be a place doe appreciation and acquiring of “objects d’art” such as furniture, textiles, fashion, sculpture, and art. It will provide exhibition space, accommodation for a design consultancy headed by Reni Folawiyo- RFH Limited- and an opportunity for the sale of pieces created in collaboration with artisans and crafts people from West Africa and beyond.

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Architecturally, the concept is a celebration of design talent- an architectural promenade through the different parts of the programme, culminating with the glazed rooftop space – an art gallery and terrace – that visually connects back to the city. Spatially, the building is a nine meter high rectangular volume, containing a series of suspended platforms, staircases and landings that ascend the space, displaying the objects. At the rear, there is a cafe opening onto a garden that offers shaded respite from the frenetic energy of Lagos. The use of cast concrete, internally and externally, establishes and industrial quality. Inside, the concrete is black, while the exterior is red pigmented concrete. The deep interior space offers the drama open, triple height volume, encouraging visitors to negotiate their way around the stock. The space is broken up by the display platforms, which vary in size. There is also a number of timber enclosures, which house some of the finer objects, such as jewelry.”

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Exploration

Upon our visit there, we were in awe of internal volume on store. Typically, buildings in Lagos flaunt black shiny floors and white walls, in their interiors. The crafted voids in the building’s shell cause the effect of fractals through the space. It is definitely a must see, time and time again. Of course, they say no pictures allowed, but we were able to capture some from Google =D Our favorite space is the floating “mesh box” as we like to refer to it, because it poses yet another layer in the complexity of the project. Neatly tucked away, it could easily double up as a quite reading corner, or a source of inspiration for our in-house studio research library. The cafe was not opened at the time of our exploration, so we will post again, soon, with more reasons to love Lagos.



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