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The art on the red laterite walls

Soro is a tavern conceptualised and built from a fictional story that revolves around a warehouse belonging to a trader from the 1940s’.

The old warehouse look

Raya conceived the design in accordance with a fictional trader’s life: A trader who once owned a tavern itself. He called it ‘Soro’; the colloquial term for alcohol in Goa.

The Verandah

A veranda with seating is provided at Soro.

The tiles

What really strikes and stands out, is the flooring. The floor is finished in colourful cement tiles, of Bharat Flooring, based in Mumbai.

The scheme borrows entirely from fiction and is dictated by Raya’s script. The walls contain graffiti of merchandise and products that the fictional trader traded in, as he expanded his business. These include vintage posters from 1940s’ that are painted on the walls.

The graffiti borrows from the trader’s business avenues who advertised and marketed his business on the tavern walls. These included some variety of alcohol or ‘Soro’ as it is colloquially known in Goa; Vespa Scooty; a Portuguese cigarette brand and so on.

A poster, of a man reading a newspaper suggests that an indirect marketing strategy adopted by the trader. The newspaper mentions ‘the most superfine’ variety of liquors, (translated from Portuguese to english) in adherence to the trader’s main business of alcohol.

The Tabaqueira

At a discreet, almost dark corner, opposite the restrooms is a cigarette poster. from the days of yore – ‘The Tabaqueira’, a Portuguese brand.

If ‘stories’ are to be believed, Soro is 77 and going strong! But even in fiction, Soro stays theoretically precise and authentic to the local connexion; be it metaphorical, literal or architectural!

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Showcase 28 Sep 2017

Time travelling to the 1940s’ Goa via a tavern called Soro by Raya Shankhwalkar

Soro is located at a quiet junction in North Goa. ‘Soro’ is the colloquial term for alcohol in ‘konkani’, the native Goan language. And Soro the ‘tavern’ is a young bar in Vagator that borrows from a fictional 1940s’ character who once owned a tavern and later expanded his business to successfully trade in various merchandise. This tale, devised by Raya Shankhwalker Architects dictates the scheme of design and décor in the pub currently.

The Brief, with a hint of fiction

The initial brief assigned to Raya Shankhwalkar Architects entailed designing a tavern within the ruins of an old corner-shop. The dilapidated corner-shop had a strong Goan character. It was constructed using laterite stone; a dark red textured stone with an uneven surface. Although its walls were plastered; the plaster had begun to peel off and reveal the laterite. 

The art on the red laterite walls

Soro is a tavern conceptualised and built from a fictional story that revolves around a warehouse belonging to a trader from the 1940s’.

However the corner-shop, with a footprint of approximately 30 square-meters was deemed small to accommodate an entire tavern. Hence, it assumed the role of an entrance. 

The main tavern with a bar, internal and veranda seating, kitchen and toilets was constructed from scratch to follow the appearance of the tavern-cum-warehouse built in 1940s. It entailed the construction of a load-bearing structure in brick masonry with sloping roofs. 

The old warehouse look

Raya conceived the design in accordance with a fictional trader’s life: A trader who once owned a tavern itself. He called it ‘Soro’; the colloquial term for alcohol in Goa.

“The construction system is indigenous to Goa given high rainfall and scorching sun simultaneously lashing at buildings and its inhabitants. While reinforced cement concrete (RCC) is the conventional choice to construct buildings, brick masonry is traditional to the Western coast of India.”

The construction system is indigenous to Goa given high rainfall and scorching sun simultaneously lashing at buildings and its inhabitants. While reinforced cement concrete (RCC) is the conventional choice to construct buildings, brick masonry is traditional to the Western coast of India. Brick construction employs local labour,  minimizes the use of machinery and in turn reduces energy consumption. Even though Architect Raya decided to recreate the premise of a 1940s’ tavern, the building stays connected to current connexions. 

The Verandah

A veranda with seating is provided at Soro.

Walk through the tavern

Take the case of the veranda. Semi-open verandas were traditionally built around Goan structures. The sloping roof on the main structure extends over the veranda and creates an inside-outside space, also ensuring that rainwater drips away from the main building. A similar veranda at Soro accommodates seating space. The roof overhang is supported by 1 feet x 1 feet thick brick pillars, aka piers. The roof is constructed in steel ensuring longer spans, a deviation from the traditional timber roofs. Half-round Mangalore terracotta roof tiles underline the ambience to recreate a perfectly old and charming locale. 

The tiles

What really strikes and stands out, is the flooring. The floor is finished in colourful cement tiles, of Bharat Flooring, based in Mumbai.

 

The scheme borrows entirely from fiction and is dictated by Raya’s script. The walls contain graffiti of merchandise and products that the fictional trader traded in, as he expanded his business. These include vintage posters from 1940s’ that are painted on the walls.

“The brick walls are left un-plastered. The meticulous ‘pointing’ between bricks lends the space a clean, neat and uniform finish while the aesthetic is intentionally shabby chic and distressed.”

The brick walls are left un-plastered. The meticulous ‘pointing’ between bricks lends the space a clean, neat and uniform finish while the aesthetic is intentionally shabby chic and distressed. ‘Pointing’ is a technique where the mortar between bricks is levelled by a pointing trowel. As the bricks are laid to construct the wall, a half inch layer of mortar is applied between them. The excess wet mortar is then traced and removed from between the bricks. The mortar line which is slightly depressed creates friction and allows the plaster to adhere better to the wall. 

The graffiti borrows from the trader’s business avenues who advertised and marketed his business on the tavern walls. These included some variety of alcohol or ‘Soro’ as it is colloquially known in Goa; Vespa Scooty; a Portuguese cigarette brand and so on.

Since the internal face of the wall is exposed, the pointing adds a third dimension to the brickwork. The brickwork is treated with Asian Paints solvents to achieve a worn-out effect on the walls. Windows that puncture the walls deploy Mild Steel (M.S) grills and ventilators to complete the character of a warehouse. What perhaps is the only non-Goan entity, is the flooring. 

A poster, of a man reading a newspaper suggests that an indirect marketing strategy adopted by the trader. The newspaper mentions ‘the most superfine’ variety of liquors, (translated from Portuguese to english) in adherence to the trader’s main business of alcohol.

For the flooring, Raya enquired at Bharat Flooring, Mumbai for tiles available at the warehouse. From their inventory of 17 available tiles, he devised a pattern and laid the tiles following the pattern. This ensured that no two similar tiles were laid adjacent to one another. 

Shrouded in fiction 

The most interesting is yet again, the fictional tale that travelled from Raya’s script to Soro’s walls. The walls contain graffiti of merchandise and products that the fictional character traded in. These include vintage posters imitating the 40s that have been painted on the walls, the only exception being ‘Dew Drops’, which is an aerated drink produced by the real owners of Soro.

“The most interesting is yet again, the fictional tale that travelled from Raya’s script to Soro’s walls.”

The graffiti is muted and almost dull, but the content is engaging. For instance, the Vespa Scooty Poster with the bikini-clad lady indicates that this fictional trader dealt in Vespa Scooty, at the same time emanating the beachy, breezy vibe of Goa. Another poster of a man reading a newspaper mentions ‘the most superfine’ variety of liquors subtly planting the lure of fine alcohol in the mind of his regular clientele. A vintage poster of Portuguese beer ‘Sagres Cerveja’ is seen on another wall; it leaves one imagining that perhaps the locals identified with the quick after-work drink. And finally, at a discreet, almost dark corner, opposite the restrooms is a poster from the days of yore – ‘The Tabaqueira’ – a Portuguese cigarette brand. Although considered taboo by some, it does feel contextual. 

The Tabaqueira

At a discreet, almost dark corner, opposite the restrooms is a cigarette poster. from the days of yore – ‘The Tabaqueira’, a Portuguese brand.

If these ‘stories’ are to be believed, Soro is 77 and going strong! But even in fiction, Soro stays theoretically precise and authentic to the local connexion; be it metaphorical, literal or architectural. 

If ‘stories’ are to be believed, Soro is 77 and going strong! But even in fiction, Soro stays theoretically precise and authentic to the local connexion; be it metaphorical, literal or architectural!

Raya Shankhwalker’s practice delves into many diverse design streams. From stories, stimulus and more, head here.