Lagos as a destination is no stranger to the luxurious. The small coastal state of Nigeria named by Portuguese explorers has its fair share of luxury destinations and developments. One distinctive and relatively new addition to the high end offerings of Eko is Alara.
Alara, which means ‘wondrous performer’ in Yoruba, is the creation of Nigerian Business woman Reni Folawiyo. The flagship concept store which features inspirational objects of African origin alongside international design, was designed by global practice Adjaye Associates. It features a peculiar exhibition-style retail space, a restaurant and terrace lounge, and an art gallery. It’s a contemporary structure that plays well with geometry and lines (most notably in its approach facade) restrained to the rectilinear form. The Red and Grey colour palette also makes for an eye catching building that is sure to turn heads at Alara’s Victoria Island address.
From the architects: Providing West Africa with its first signature retail and lifestyle environment, the Alara store, by Adjaye Associates, promotes emerging talent while establishing a creative hub and an essential new destination for Lagos. The site is on Akin Olugbade Street, in a part residential/part commercial street, in Victoria Island, Lagos. The concept store is a place for the appreciation and acquiring of ‘objets d’art’ such as furniture, textiles, fashion, sculpture and art. It will provide exhibition space, accommodation for a design consultancy headed by Reni Folawiyo – RFH Limited – and an opportunity for the sale of pieces created in collaboration with artisans and crafts people originating from West Africa and beyond.
Architecturally, the concept is a celebration of design talent – an architectural promenade through the different parts of the programme, culminating with the glazed rooftop space – an art gallery and terrace – that visually connects back to the city. Spatially, the building is a nine metre high rectangular volume, containing a series of suspended platforms, staircases and landings that ascend the space, displaying the objects. At the rear, there is a café opening onto a garden that offers shaded respite from the frenetic energy of Lagos. The use of cast concrete, internally and externally, establishes an industrial quality.
Inside, the concrete is black, while the exterior is red pigmented concrete. The deep interior space offers the drama of the open, triple height volume, encouraging visitors to negotiate their way around the stock. The space is broken up by the display platforms, which vary in size. There are also a number of timber enclosures, which house some of the finer objects, such as jewellery.