Location  Dubai, UAE
Category  Leisure
Accent DG  Interior Design
Lead Architect  Elie Abs
Project Team  Joy Abi Rizk, Vanessa Abou Harb, Maria Ghraichi, Nathalie Saade, Leya Salman
Area  300 sqm
Materials  brick pavement, fair-faced concrete, acrylic, glass blocks, gi metal, stainless steel mirror, neon, perferorated metal sheets
Status  completed

PHOTOGRAPHS  Augustine Paredes

Electric Pawn Shop

Reading the memory of a young city which changes by the second, we were challenged by Dubai to acknowledge the present as a layer of the past. While many consider infrastructures, cranes and construction sites as a state of exception or impermanence, we read them as the specific rule or the permanent spirit which defines Dubai. Building in a context where the present and the future merge to shape the memory, Electric Pawn Shop takes birth as an f&b bar in the back of the H-Hotel, reading the traces of the restaurant that was once there. It projects to the inside the movement, light and speed of the cars on the second of November bridge, generating a theatrical play of reflections.
Similar to the international identity of UAE, where different multi-cultural models are adopted, Electric Pawn Shop imports the model of Beirut bars whilst staying true to the essence of the Dubai culture. The project is inspired from the local bars of Gemmayzeh and Mar-Mkhael in Lebanon, which create through their particular scale, a plethora of opportunities for intimate social interactions. To replicate this feeling, the 300sqm space is interpreted as an urban object orbiting around a central piazza where different streets intersect. At the heart of the piazza sits a sculptural bar, reconfiguring typologies of construction tools and techniques into built form. Four different bridge concrete beams stand majestically on the floor, morphing into four bars, reminiscent of the bridge infrastructure. Resting on the bar, one is aware of the play of scale through a hovering mirror canopy. Honest, the canopy reveals its structure and reflects through its mirrors the different light colors, contrasting with the stiffness of the rough materials and unveiling the three-dimensionality of the space. The visitor feels the structural tension by peeking through the void of the architectonic mirror, seeing steel I-beams, tension cables, and a yellow crane bolted into the back wall.
Contrary to the unity of the ceiling, the floor, through its different treatments, acts as navigation map between one street and the other. By walking in each street, the guests are guided by neon signs to experience unique adventures while discovering glimpses of the events that are yet to unfold. Creating an artificial topography, wagon seating, couple seating, a common dining area and a metallic amphitheater, form observatories, creating particular encounters. On their way, pop up museums with distinctive colors appear randomly to the left and right. To the left, the Dj booth and the vinyl museum, expose the fine selection of vinyls, and projects through the glass blocks an amalgam of different colors and feelings. While exploring the different streets, the rotavap laboratory exhibits the process behind cocktail making. As a clear statement that this place is but a hyper-reality, the visitors are welcomed from the outside by a reception desk overlooking a floating water feature with a neon statement inside. The space starts to act as an autobiography, where each design decision takes inspiration from food, music and cocktails, telling the story of the client, the DJ, the chef and the architect.
Rough materials such as concrete, perforated metal sheets, glass blocks, GI metal, neon lighting, brick pavement, water and mirrors create a playful imaginative environment where all five senses are stimulated. Mimicking the city of Dubai, the phenomenon, generated by Electric Pawn Shop, changes our perception of reality by the second, making the visitor wonder if their experience is real or a mere illusion.