Client: Gigi Blin Market Cafe
Location: Vancouver, BC
A local entrepreneurial couple found a former corner store in a heritage building with faded grandeur and saw its potential as a location for a local grocery store and café in the under served Marpole neighbourhood. Local Practice was brought on board to give form to this idea and to restore the space to its former glory, along with negotiating the challenges associated with zoning, permitting, mechanical and electrical systems.
Despite being a little rough around the edges, the existing space had a lot of character. The remnants of previous botched renovations were removed and the space was given a fresh coat of white paint to emphasize the tall ceilings and elegant original shopfront windows. Rather than compete with these historic details, the deli, grocery and café elements were conceived as self-contained pieces within the space. The restrained palette of materials is focused on natural materials that blend well with the heritage space and age gracefully: salvaged wood, white paint, brass accents, white marble. Red metal chairs add a splash of colour and reflect the owner’s Italian heritage. The main design feature is a long deli counter, framed by a wood ceiling canopy made from recycled shipping pallets. Local Practice also designed custom light fixtures that cantilever over the café tables. The design includes fabric-wrapped electrical cords as an elegant and economical alternative to opening up the plaster wall to conceal conduit. Since it opened, the Gigi Blin Market Café, named after the owner’s grandfather, has become a local social hub and its understated interior has become the backdrop for neighbourhood life.
Design Team: Local Practice (Architect), Louis Bellini (Contractor)
Project Completion: 2015