The atrium of Le Bon Marché department store in Paris is now home to a mirrored public skate ramp that reflects the retail space to create the illusion of a cylindrical void.
Architectural practice MANA has partnered with skateboarder Scott Oster to design and install the skate ramp, called Le Cube.
The installation was unveiled as a centrepiece to the store’s Los Angeles Rive Gauche exhibition, which showcased a selection of the city’s fashion and beauty products. During the show, the full-pipe functioned as both a sculpture and a stage to host live skating performances. When not in use, Le Cube’s reflective surface luminously reflected the architecture of the department store, engaging shoppers who could catch their own reflection.
“Le Cube acted as a thought-provoking intersection between sport and sculptural art,” a description of the project on MANA’s website reads. “When a performance was occurring inside, the atmosphere was dynamic and stimulating. When it was not being activated, Le Cube sat quietly, luminously reflecting the architecture of its surroundings—warm lights, decorative iron handrails, and the famous crossing escalators of Le Bon Marché.”
Oster worked with John Manaves of MANA Architects to come up with the concept behind the piece. Originally, he was approached by the exhibition’s curators to design a pop-up store that would house a collection inspired by the surf and skate culture during the 1980s in California’s Venice Beach.
“My inspiration for the adaptation cube was the photos I saw as a kid in the 70’s skateboard magazines of these massive cement full pipes in the desert,” Oster said in an interview for 24 Sévres, the online counterpart to the Parisian boutique. “My original idea was to find one of these pipes and set it on top of a pedestal, but after some research that was not a viable possibility.
“That’s when I came up with the idea of building one and instead of building a full pipe sitting on a pedestal, make a cube with the full pipe inside it. I love the simplicity and form of a circle and a square.”
The cube is comprised of four timber-framed bays and clad in sheets of lightweight aluminium. It measures six metres square, with the plywood full-pipe inside measuring five metres in diameter and perfectly framing Le Bon Marché’s famous crossing escalators.
Particular time was spent on creating intentional seams in the cube’s exterior to highlight the structure’s geometry. Lights, speakers, and an access door in the base of the structure were also installed so not to impede the skating.
Via designboom | Images courtesy of MANA