For the second Nuba project, the site was an inconspicuous 1960's era light industrial building in the Main/Cambie industrial area. The cafe fronts a larger commissary kitchen that serves as a small hummus factory and general plant for the Nuba machine. The drab, regular lines of the 60's run-of-the-mill commercial architecture inspired the image of a suburban roadside cafe in the Lebanon of the same era.
As a constraint, we opted to avoid any traces of wood or other natural materials, in favour of modern, industrialised products like fiberglass, vinyl composite, plastic laminate, epoxy, tile and paint.. all of the material "information" would come from patterns created in or applied onto the various expedient, "artificial" surfaces. Additionally, it was assumed that all techniques applied would be as much as possible original to the project while at the same time suggesting ambiguously strong cultural associations. Again, as in the previous (Gastown) project, the overall theme comes from the difficult confluence of people and place.
The concrete screen block used to enclose a handicapped-accessible entry ramp refers to the time period in question but also to the surrounding light-industrial neighborhood seen through the front windows. The way the block is configured, as a screened entryway, strongly suggests the "breezeway" entrances of traditional Arabic buildings.
The triangular tiles below the bar are a recall of the earlier project, this time appearing in a different pattern. Again, the process of cutting standard bathroom tiles diagonally to infuse culture into an industrial product through human labour suggests a kind of expedience and resourcefulness which celebrates both the objective reality of our home-depot present, and the multifold cultural and sub-cultural forces that modulate its form, colour and texture.
The black and green design on the side and back walls employs an ancient Arabic tile pattern but the vertical hexagons in the pattern refer to 1960's preferences in geometric proportion. The expedient nod to the present in this case, lies in the technique. As actual mosaic tiles like these would prove a) completely unavailable and b) prohibitively expensive, we opted for spray paint. This solved the problem of material expense but, as it turns out, compared with laying tile, stenciling a geometric pattern on walls and around requires very specific skills. So the de facto rarity of this desirable material rests in the unlikeliness of its conception and the difficulty of its execution rather than in expensive manufacture, branding or shipping costs.
The chairs are institutional Eames knock-offs. they were found as-is on ebay for USD8.00, probably pulled out of an old hospital cafeteria on the East coast. We had to send someone to upstate New York to crate them up and ship them to Vancouver. This complex mission added $30 to each chair and when they arrived, many of them were cracked but in many ways, the whole space was designed around the Image of these orange and yellow stacking chairs found online.