Esrawe Studio designs conceptual retail space for Grupo Arca
Esrawe studio has designed a retail, exhibition, warehouse and workspace for Grupo Arca, a global platform for sourcing and disseminating natural and technological raw materials. The new building, located in Guadalajara, Mexico, was aesthetically inspired by the form of a quarry – described by the designers as a typology in itself, a manmade space sculpted through the search for raw materials, described by Edward Burtynsky as a ‘manufactured landscape’.
Grupo Arca wanted a building that expressed its desire to combine the construction industry with the cultural and creative expression of Mexico. They turned to Mexico City-based cross-disciplinary design atelier Esrawe. For them, blending traditionally siloed disciplines has become second nature – founded by designer Héctor Esrawe in 2003, the studio freely crosses from furniture and objects to interiors, commercial spaces, installations and cultural exhibitions and back again.
Taking the quarry as the starting point for the design, Esrawe sculpted an imposing façade that echoes the monolithic nature of a rock face. A small entrance exacerbates the dramatic scale further still, yet inside visitors are confronted by a welcoming space that feels more like a museum lobby than that of a retail space. Creative displays and subtle way-finding guide people towards a Design Center, cafe, and a multipurpose events space.
Architecturally and conceptually, creativity sits side by side with industry. In addition to this cultural building, a second separate volume performs as a ‘functional container’ for a storage warehouse and distribution centre. The warehouse is equipped to help users discover materials through QR codes that with a simple scam provide the description and costs of selected materials – which also feeds into a database of previous purchases, trends and purchasing behaviour. Meanwhile, a huge opening overlooking the surrounding forest, always reminds professionals of the origins of the materials they are browsing. §