Walk into the new 110 Prince Street location of Spanish footwear company Camper, and you won’t see any shoes. Where you might expect to find products displayed--along the parti-wall--there’s only a giant red Camper logo. But walk further into the narrow space, and you’ll see the red fins are angled to hide a shelving system for the shoes. It’s a clever little shelving concept devised by venerable Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, who designed the store with New York-based architect Dean Maltz.
Ban is famous for using paper as a structural material, and the Camper store bears his distinctive architectural fingerprints. A gabled roof of cardboard tubes perches atop the diminutive one-story building (Ban: “it looked lonely”), giving it a kind of crown. Ban’s modular 10 Unit seating system snakes through the long space, offering shoppers an unusually plentiful amount of space to sit. Along the opposite wall from the shoes, sliding glass doors open the space up the busy cobblestone street outside. Dean Maltz Architect, whose office has designed a number of New York retail spaces, worked alongside Ban to bring the project into code-compliant reality.
Ban started working with recycled cardboard tubing, or “paper logs,” almost 30 years ago. He’s proven the legitimacy of the technology in dozens of buildings, ranging from churches to disaster shelters (Ban has built temporary housing for the survivors of almost every major earthquake in the last 10 years). After the 2011 tsunami, he delayed much of his office’s other work to focus solely on building temporary housing for families displaced by the disaster.
On Tuesday night in SoHo, surrounded by an audience of shoppers and reverent designers, the architect and Camper manager Miquel Fluxa hesitantly reached up to untie the giant red sneaker laces that served as the official “ribbon cutting” ceremony. Ban has said that the temporality of paper architecture works as a reflection of the persistent redevelopment of the city. Amidst the breakneck speed of SoHo’s retail district, he seemed right at home.
[Inline Image: Arch Daily/Marian Montoro]