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From the maze of boutique and department stores abundant in Tokyo’s central Ginza district comes a retail concept store that reflects a new appreciation for scale and context, Joanna Kawecki writes.



Jo Nagasaka and his Nakameguro-based architectural firm Schemata Architects are responsible for this surprising, minimalistic store.


En Route is an apparel and accessories concept boutique with a twist: it includes a “Running Station” of separate changing rooms and showers that urban city runner customers can access at all times of the day.


The idea behind this concept store is driven by Japanese retail heavyweights United Arrows, which aims to offer a more personal and curated shopping experience.


Championing a sporty lifestyle, the store’s innovative interior and use of materials is kept deliberately simple and understated, a contrast to the brand’s more highly-priced clothing line.


The main structure and design element is constructed from a combination of bright yellow tubes and metal scaffolding more commonly recognised outside of a store. Nagasaka focussed on sustainable, industrial materials as a basis for re-designing the 6-metre high space. FRP piping, wooden boxes and steel frames were also used to complement the exposed concrete panelling. On the choice of sustainable materials used he says, “Bamboo was considered, but it’s just too expensive and unpredictable in shape.”



With the active and urban style-conscious customer in mind, a considered approach was taken in the design of the main staircase connecting the first and second floor where a platform bridges a 3.7-metre gap halfway up the stairs, inspiring unconscious active strides and ‘movements’ from customers. But perhaps the most striking feature are the hand-made benches covered in rich and luminous colours of red, blue and yellow epoxy resin that appear to ‘drip’ over the aged wood.


In this project, Schemata Architects have served up an impressive example of innovative architecture, complemented by a consideration for sustainable and minimalist design.


Photography: Kenta Hasegawa

Schemata Architects

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