Strada Shopping Center, Food Court & Gallery
The cavernous, 2000-square-meter culinary court at Strada, arranged over mezzanined levels that flow together in a large atrium, was a top-to-bottom renovation challenge. We took the opportunity to transform this static skeleton – cold, dull, and soulless – into a lush, verdant and seductive series of areas that invites the visitor to explore, to settle in, and to stay. A preexisting glass roof provides a sky-like expanse of natural light all day long, so it was only natural to transform the court into a tropical jungle that infuses the space with air and with life, both literally and figuratively. The base palette relies upon white oak wood with its tones of birch and bone; a full spectrum of lichen, moss and sage greens; and structural accents of dark matte metal. We designed subsidiary spaces that set themselves off from one another, like distinct cells within a living body, by using the careful arrangement of custom-built tables and benches in white oak and formica, pillars clad in organic clay tiles, planters overflowing with live greenery, and flowering balustrades. Thus the main cavern is cleverly divided into spaces-in-space, like matryoshka nesting dolls that tuck into and emerge from one another as the visitor moves through to choose the space that feels most comfortable for her. Some zones are brighter and others are darker; some offer seating that cuddles into hidden corners while others offer an open view perfect for seeing and being seen. Fifty enormous vintage metal lamps, rescued from an old defunct factory, suspend from the soaring ceiling, and join low-set incorporated LED lighting to augment the sun during the day and provide a warm glow after dark. An enormous bird-cage, eight meters tall and wrought in black metal, hovers cantilevered above the main floor; within it, visitors can sit at a large round communal table that features a live olive tree at its core. A modular labyrinthine “greenhouse” provides further whimsy, inviting visitors to peek in and wander through a black-metal frame displaying thousands of movable and interchangeable potted plants. The final touch is an external terrace that spills into the open air. Here, integrated seating is lined with living plants, green metal lounge chairs provide a comfortable view, a wood pergola ceiling casts benevolent shade, and a thin-rod railing in black metal links the outdoor aesthetic to the indoor.
© Studio Astolfi