Text description provided by the architects. Metropolitan studio of Architecture (MSA) collaborated with WARDA, a clothing brand, on designing their new stores, which are planned in various cities of Pakistan. 'Re-tale' is the second flagship store in this series. The first store was designed in Peshawar, Pakistan named ‘Crafting a Retail’. Each flagship store is designed keeping in mind the idea that it will serve as a rejuvenating device for the brand. MSA has taken this collaboration as an opportunity to look closely at the retail culture of Pakistan in general and WARDA retail strategies in specific. These explorations helped in developing an overall thematic of the brand, where context becomes the central focus of the aesthetics of the flagships.
This seven thousand square feet area of the flagship distributed in, ground, mezzanine, first and second-floor levels is located in the city of Rawalpindi- a twin city of the capital Islamabad, Pakistan. The city of Rawalpindi is situated in the area which was historically part of Great Gandhara civilization and in proximity to one of the major cities of the civilization, Taxila. The civilization flourished in the northwest of Pakistan from 6th c BC to 5th AD. In Rig Vedic time's people living in the Peshawar valley and the modern district of Rawalpindi, were called Gandhara.
The overall aesthetic of this very flagship is inspired by the Gandhara civilization. The detailed study of the art practices of civilization led to the making of informed choices regarding the material pallet and the aesthetic expression of the project. The material pallet of the flagship which includes stone, metal and gold leafing on selected items are directly inspired by the material pallet of the Gandhara art.
The age-old technique of terrazzo has been improvised and installed on the double hight walls of the flagship. Apart from the irregular chips of marble in the terrazzo, marbles of regular geometric forms and varied sizes and colour have been arranged in a way that depicted the scene of the falling leaves from a sacred peppal (Ficus Religiosa) tree. The walls providing the backdrop to the strategically located staircase and of the mezzanine level, are adorned with undressed but regularly cut local stone of various sizes to accentuate the feel of these spaces.
The facade of the store is designed in continuing rustic metal on the imagery of a lotus pond, where the corners of the carefully selected laser cut metal geometric pattern are curved upward to give an image of a lotus flower. The overall look of the facade is a depiction of a pond with floating lotuses in it. The continuing rustic metal sheet gives the facade a living character. In the inside of the flagship, the welcome wall behind the greeter counter has been adorned by local schist stone cut in lotus leaf pattern depicted in various Buddha sculptures of the civilization. Some of these stone have been decorated with gold leaves to provide an attribute of life, light and providence.
The overall layout of the store responds not only to the programmatic requirements of the project but also to the retail behaviour of the customers at the same time the design is an ode to a great civilization once flourished in this region of the world.