Veja, the shoe of choice among the understated elite, has a new Madrid storefront that looks like an abandoned building. Veja surrounds their sneakers with exposed brick, chipped concrete, and long air ducts. But this gutted environment, the work of Spain’s Plantea Estudio, is surprisingly complex.
Plantea Estudio, founded by brothers Luis and Lorenzo Gil in 2008, embraces Brutalism and reveals architectural infrastructure like load-bearing walls, HVAC, and plumbing. Though the finished spaces look like they’ve been minimally renovated, Plantea Estudio modernizes the engineering, facilities, and appliances to create a livable environment with the aesthetic of an uninhabitable space.
Veja’s new store is no different. The bricks are staggered between uneven patches of mortar. Load bearing beams form stripes between rough blocks of concrete, and cracked pinewood door frames have been stripped of all their paint.
“It has the solid quality of the permanent, but also reveals a vulnerable side in the modifications and scars it has suffered over time,” Plantea Estudio said. None of these details, however, are any danger to the customer. The store, which inhabits the basement and ground floor of an old building in Madrid, is just as sturdy as it was when built at the beginning of the 20th century.
The architects pulled out cheap building materials that had been applied by decades of previous tenants, added an acoustic ceiling with track lighting, smoothed the floors with cement by Mortex, and added Malpesa cobblestones to the entrance. They expanded all twelve windows by removing any superfluous materials that cropped their floor-to-ceiling aperture. That gives a clear view into Veja, framing customers as mannequins. Concrete blocks were added to provide seating, display stands, and counters, which blends into the raw, industrial atmosphere.
“It is necessary to touch a lot so that it seems that nothing has been touched,” says the studio.
Plantea Estudio breaks up the brutalism with a lush ficus tree and wooden armchairs. The furniture, designed by Joaquim Belsa in 1960 for Aresta, taps into the interior’s omnipresent historical reference. There’s also something special about putting the spotlight on Veja shoes via their anachronistic surroundings. If the only new objects are the merchandise, maybe customers will be more drawn to their distinctness.
The store’s floor plan is serendipitously in the shape of a V, echoing the unmistakable logo that adorns a pair of Vejas. Walking around the store will subconsciously engrave the letter into the mind. There is also a shoe repair shop hidden in the V’s apex, which can be spied through a brick archway. Those shoes, and the building, are going to last a lifetime.