An amorphous, semi-translucent fibreglass shell inserted into an existing corner space, Aesop James Street blurs the line between interior and exterior. Situated in Brisbane’s leafy James Street precinct, the store is moments away from the city’s thriving cultural hubs, Fortitude Valley and New Farm. The design represents two significant milestones: the seventeenth store completed in collaboration with Rodney Eggleston, from March Studio, as well as the largest store to date. The funnel-like form was partially inspired by the shapes of Anish Kapoor’s sculptures, while fibreglass, the signature material – frequently used in kayaks, surfboards and above-ground swimming pools – is a subtle nod to outdoor activities in tropical Queensland.
The structure within a structure was developed to address two separate entries and a shift in ceiling height.
The windows of the outer building offer glimpses to the skin of the alien object within.
Constructed from one-way curving fibreglass sheets, the woven texture of the glass-reinforced plastic appears as if stretched underneath a grid of timber frames, permitting dappled patches of sunlight to enter the interior. Sinuous curves mitigate spatial constraints, from an undercroft space to a double-height void, while cut-out sections draw in even more light. The undulating form, guided by material constraints, trumpets out like the horn of a phonograph, producing similarly acoustic effects: sound is gently amplified out to James Street, establishing a connection with the local streetscape. The horizontal beams of the external timber frame are used to display products along the outer shell, visible through the façade windows.
A moulded fibreglass counter snakes through the central axis, its curved footprint accommodating point-of-sale, storage and sinks. The mottled sheen of polished concrete floors is like a pool reflecting the design's motif.
Aesop James Street dissolves the boundary between object and architecture, mediating its spatial ambiguity with the ethereal qualities of fibreglass.