Thanopoulos supermarket is at the northern suburbs of Athens and is a family business that owns in the same area two more supermarkets, a bit smaller. It was always a high end supermarket brand with huge variety of sophisticated imported goods which are unlikely to be found in other supermarkets in Athens.
During the economic crisis the supermarkets showed a decrease on the average of the money spend per customer. Although new smaller supermarkets opened in the area, as a reaction on the new status qvo, the owners found the economic crisis as an opportunity to reorganize their stores and change through design their philosophy and their image.
KLab started with the interior complete refurbishment of the first supermarket located in N. Erythrea just a kilometer of their next intervention at the N.Kifisia store that was a complete renovation both to the interior and to the exterior.
The store was fully operational during the construction period. Most of the works were happening during the weekends after the store was closing at 9.00pm at Saturday.
The task for KLab was very demanding. The supermarket building existed in 3 floors before the refurbishment and looked old and neglected.
The store has altered through the years with additions of extra spaces that transform the interior to almost a labyrinth with very difficult navigation through the shelves and circulation between the floors. The exterior was also outdated. The quality of the products had nothing to do with the quality of the space.
The main idea was to change the notion of the supermarket as it exists today in Greece -indifferent big boxes with long alleys of products. Our research started from recently designed supermarkets and continued to the open food markets. For as the supermarket had to be resolved as an interpretation of an urban market place where you go to different shops to find different goods and interfere with other people. Some of the designs as the galvanized stroll were used to show the aesthetics of farmers market, some like the marble counter, the old fish markets in the islands and the age treated wooden shelves, the old bakeries on a mountain village. All these refer to familiar memories that were treated and interpreted in a new modern context. The supermarket was designed as our town, our village while we have been out to buy bread, fish, meat, vegetable, fruits, etc.
After the refurbishment the supermarket is 2600m2 in two floors occupying the same area as before in three floors. 2nd floor remained empty for a future café use for the supermarket customers. Circulation has changed due to the addition of two inclined moving walks and the reorganization of the shelves. The plan has changed dramatically and everything was placed according to consumer habits and consumer needs. Almost each department got its own identity and KLab designed custom made furniture for them. Big parts of the exterior walls were opened to allow natural light rush in the store and especially on the ground floor to create openness feeling as there is at the open air markets.
Ceiling height was not sufficient for false ceiling so we came up with the idea of creating a simple structure by vertical white translucent Perspex lines that were illuminated in between by T5 fluorescent lamps. This allowed a gradient almost luminescent ceiling with osb as background.
The supermarket lies on a corner of a piazza and to most of the people the piazza itself has the name of the supermarket. The store was there before anything else was built and we thought that we had to give back an aesthetic value to the town. We had never consider our approach designing the façade as per design a supermarket façade, but we believed that we had to tell a story and design something appealing and enthusiastic. We chose to emphasize the corner that the two sides of the building develop and to create a sense of movement that will correspond to the perspective lines of the piazza and the movement of the cars along the two sides of the supermarket. In a way a 3d wavy aluminum laser cut facade became a modern second skin protecting the supermarket from the intense sunlight. The design of the perforation has its origins from the Mediterranean culture in food that is being represented here by the olive tree leaf. The exterior walls were painted in olive gray. Wood cladding created the base of the building. Nature and technology coexist in a supermarket as in our façade and interior design.