O Antigo Talho

Vegan Shop and Cafe
Architecture / Interior Design

“O antigo talho” translates to “the old butcher shop,” because that’s what this space once was: the building had its first life as home and shop for a family of butchers. Our complete renovation marks its complete ideological and physical transformation into a vegan café on the first floor (where the family once lived), and a boutique dedicated to organic, eco-friendly, animal-product-free cosmetics, accessories, apparel and decorative items on the ground floor (where they processed and sold their meats).

First, we stripped the space to its structural skeleton. For both levels we selected a palette of vert de terre: greens ranging from pale and dusty to deeper, almost-turquoise greens. The ground-floor shop space was designed to maximize display surface options, making use of floor and counter space and wall niches. It features a product-display module in the center, formed from the same microcement that clads the floor but infused with a pale dusty green to set it apart and crowned with an integrated planter to accommodate lush growing plants. A deep turquoise-green sets off the lacquered and polished finish of storage units, cupboards and display tables. On the walls, fresh green pigment climbs up more than two meters but does not reach the ceiling, leaving a broad stroke of white like an expanse of sky to lift the space. Organic clay lamps were hand-designed, half-glazed in white (leaving half in raw terracotta), and then fired in kilns; the finished cylinders cling to the walls and hang from the ceilings to provide soft points of warm illumination. A custom-designed microcement washbasin allows customers to test cosmetics and personal care products.

The palette continues into the café upstairs. We removed the false ceiling to reveal raw roof tiles, and installed a buoyant wood-slat ceiling stained in a weathered, textured rustic white. Wood tables are clad in various shades of green Formica. The cake counter, cashier’s desk and display areas bring back the deep green-turquoise from the furniture on the ground floor, and shallow wood shelves display wood blocks hand-scorched with letters and numbers to create the text of a movable menu (like the letter-blocks in an antique printing press). The sales counter is topped with white marble and plants are suspended throughout the space, like a subtle and irreverent throwback to the legendary Babylonian hanging garden. We left existing internal Pombaline tabique construction bare on one wall, to celebrate the layers of history that characterize the space. The washroom features an old stone basin, supported on a metal frame and set off by faucets, mirrors and fittings in a black-lacquered metal. Suspended coconut husks serve as planters, bringing floating bursts of green. The wood-plank door that opens into the washroom is nearly invisible from the outside, cut seamlessly from the raw exposed wall. Rough-cut tree trunks are smoothed to serve as stools, with other seating integrated into window niches. Cylindrical clay wall sconces complement the natural light that streams in through the windows.

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