In recent years, Marvila – a former industrial area in Lisbon – has been witness to a gentrification boom consequence of Portuguese tourism. New shops, restaurants and start-ups that have flocked to the neighbourhood have incited a metamorphosis not unlike that of Brooklyn or Copenhagen’s Meatpacking district. Soon, a luxury housing complex by Renzo Piano will open nearby.

Tem-Plate, an omni-channel concept from seasoned luxury retail professionals Rune Park and Robby Vekemans, set up shop in the district this spring. Veterans of companies such as Chanel, Antwerp-based retailer SN3 and Henrik Vibskov, Park and Vekemans decided to join forces to bring a new perspective to the global industry. Their goal? To ‘explore territories off the beaten fashion path.’

Which is how they ended up in Marvila, thousands of kilometres from Europe’s distinguished fashion capitals. For the duo, choosing Portugal for their first brick-and-mortar location – with its established apparel production heritage and buzzing creative scene – was only logical.

Designed by Berlin-based Gonzalez Haase AAS, Tem-Plate is housed in an old warehouse just a few metres from the river Tagus. Bridging from classic, product-driven store formats, Park and Vekemans decided that the space – kept sparse – should serve instead as an event and exhibition space for the online universe. Only a small fraction of what’s offered online is showcased as to give visitors the feeling of discovery, like in a gallery – a popular typology for retailers as they wade new phygital waters.

We’re not afraid of buying more risky and signature runway pieces

‘Today, you can buy everything, whether it’s online or off,’ said Vekemans. ‘But now, we’re already introducing more than 70 per cent of new brands to the Portuguese and Spanish region. All [retail] markets in Europe are absorbed with hoodies and sneakers. Yet we’re not purchasing in a traditional way – we’re not afraid of buying more risky and signature runway pieces.’

The dominant feature of the design is the lighting, which gives those stand-out products a chance to sit front-and-centre in one’s line of sight. Seemingly homogeneous and artificial, the bright, white glare actually becomes denser as you move into the space. Gonzalez Haase designed the cleverly spaced system to overtake the powerful sunlight coming through the only open façade. Additionally, that façade is cloaked by a massive, pale yellow PVC curtain that functions as a natural climatic layer. In the back of the space, a parallel curtain wall is built with a layer of silver grey polycarbonate.

‘We have received many comments from clients and brands that [Tem-Plate] gives them the feeling of being in Tokyo or downtown LA instead of Lisbon,’ added Vekemans. ‘This cosmopolitanism is exactly what we wanted to translate in the store and this project.’