Renovating a derelict historic building is hard enough without the vagaries of an ongoing war but that’s exactly what Ukrainian architect Sofiia Hupalovska had to deal with in the case of the flagship store of Ukrainian clothing brand COOSH. Located in Ternopil in western Ukraine, the hometown of the brand’s owner, the store is a paradigm of simplicity and elegance in reflection of the brand’s aesthetic as well as a model restoration project. At the same time, the project is also a poignant reminder of the country’s resilience in the face of Russia’s attempt to erase Ukraine’s identity and culture, breathing new life into an old building sends an evocative message.
Notwithstanding the logistic challenges during wartime, Hupalovska also had to contend with the building’s dire state; from the façade, to the walls and floors, to the windows and doors, most of the building fabric had to be reconstructed – a serendipitous exception being the parquet flooring in parts of the upper level which were meticulously restored after being accidentally discovered under multiple layers. On the contrary, the intricate plaster mouldings adorning the ceilings had to be crafted anew modelled on the few surviving fragments.
Underpinned by a muted palette of white tones, the store’s minimalist designed interiors nevertheless belie a treasure trove of exquisite crafted details, both historic, like the aforementioned stucco ornamentation and contemporary in the case of the reception’s tiled backdrop where two different sized tiles were used to create graphic geometric patterns. In fact, most of the store’s furniture has been custom-made for the project including the cubic marble counter on the ground floor, which subtly adds an earthy hued touch, and the system of free-standing and wall-mounted racks. Made out of inexpensive metal rods, the white-painted slender racks take on a sculptural aura in Hupalovska’s hands all the more adding to the scheme’s minimalist elegance.