2015 National Architecture Awards: Small Project Architecture

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LOVESTORY shop by MORQ. Image: Peter Bennetts

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LOVESTORY shop by MORQ. Image: Peter Bennetts

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Small Project Architecture: National Commendation
Australian Institute of Architects

Jury citation

The jury was unanimous in its commendation of this tiny interior fitout, the refurbishment of a small, nondescript commercial space into a bespoke clothing shop. The project demonstrated an exceptional use of a restrained palette of materials and simple details to produce a small retail interior of great serenity. Subtle detailing incorporating handcrafted elements such as the handrails fashioned from bicycle frame tubing reinforced the bespoke nature of the products on sale. The detailing throughout the store interior is impeccable.

The project developed from an ambitious brief: a client vying to gain access to an exclusive European label, which selects its international resellers based on the quality and uniqueness of their retail spaces. To meet these aspirations, the new space needed to convey a sense of unique identity, display craftsmanship and create a quality of space comparable to the best international clothing boutiques.

In response, the architect designed an “inner skin” of plywood to entirely line the space, thus creating a cohesive, welcoming place. The plywood was lightened with whitewash and finished with burnt umber wax. This single material works as walls, shelves, ceilings and accessories to generate a warm, subdued atmosphere. The material palette includes waxed mill-finished stainless steel for all exposed metalwork and a resinous cement finish to all floors and stair.

The whole project was designed as a large plywood cabinet, employing a limited number of quality building trades, and the vast majority of the works was carried out by a single cabinet-maker. The quality of this small, intricate project is testament to a true collaborative approach between architect, builder and trades, led by a clear architectural vision. The project has achieved a strong result for the client: she successfully secured the European clothing brand.

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