Comida Independente is a project for a retail store covering around 100m2 and selling foodstuffs in the Santos neighbourhood in the historical centre of the city of Lisbon. The store is located on the ground floor of a prominently located building between Rua Cais do Tojo and Travessa Cais do Tojo, which was recently rehabilitated by the architect João Luís Carrilho da Graça.
The brand seeks to reinterpret, in a contemporary language, the concept of the tradition grocer’s store but in a very particular form: promoting artisan food and the best of Portuguese gastronomy through the sale of a great variety of products from small scale, independent producers.
Following initial analysis of the space, two formal characteristics stood out as of great importance to work with: an existing structural pillar in the center of the space and the generous openings in the facades. The interventions sought to correspondingly incorporate these features into the project both in terms of the layout and in the design of the inbuilt furniture.
As regards the spatial organisation, the client counter was positioned laterally in relation to the entrance, aligned by the existing volume containing the bathroom. This then led to the creation of a vertical volume for storage space that, simultaneously, provides support to the client counter and establishes a physical separation from the bathroom point of access. The counter area contains two pieces: one frontal, with an inset glass display case for charcuterie, and a space for three seated places; and a rear section for the preparation of foodstuffs and the display of bread.
As regards the client area, the intervention distinguishes between two moments: the peripheral walls and the central area. In the former case, the display cases are made up of metal modules, designed for the display of products, and lower level wooden modules for stock storage. This composition is repeated along the walls and thereby establishing continuity. In the sections shaped by the presence of openings, the layout only features the low wooden module type, enabling the entrance of natural light and enhancing the display case effect that works both towards the interior and the exterior.
In the central section, a single body was created in order to not only define this area but also establish different and dynamic circuits around the store’s interior. This is constituted by volumes with two variable heights, establishing a “full-empty” rhythm that respects the metric of the facade and facilitates visual communication between the various points within this environment. While the taller volumes incorporate the existing pillar, the cold storage equipment and the product display modules, the lower volumes enable the storage of stock in their interior spaces and the layout of products on their upper surfaces.
This also created two means for clients to remain within: a shared, community table and two other tables in the nooks that define the corner of the building for the purpose of tasting the products on sale in the store.
As regards the materials, the choice was in favour of preserving the memory of this commercial typology while also responding to the functional requirements of the program. This thus resulted in the selection of white tiles for finishing the walls and white terrazzo with coloured glass aggregate for the floors and the client service counters. This intervention therefore strove to create a timeless, classical space within an urban environment, light and luminous, conveying the sense of authenticity that the store concept demands and serving as the backdrop for the display of products that actually take on the leading role in this entire project.