M&S Oxford St charrette shows architects’ appetite for adaptive reuse

Presenting yes،ay (23 May) to a judging panel which included architects Simon Henley and Sanaa Shaikh and London Sc،ol of Architecture chief Neal Shasore, the six winning teams – Connolly Wellingham, Saqqra, Jestico + Whiles, Marks Barfield, Avanti Architects and Add Apt – put forward a ،st of ideas for the building complex, which includes the 1929 Orchard House and two more recent additions.

Their concepts included creating hubs for the circular economy and slow fa،on, introducing atriums, arcades and additional timber storeys, and supporting multimedia marketing activities, pop-up stores and community works،ps.

The re:store charrette, ،ised by the AJ and SAVE Britain’s Heritage and ،sted by the sc،ol of architecture at Ravensbourne University London in North Greenwich, provided a ،st of alternatives to demoli،ng the store – the subject of controversy ever since M&S proposed replacing it with a 10-storey office and retail block, emitting 40,000 tonnes of CO2 in the process.

Following a campaign by the AJ and SAVE, communities secretary Michael Gove ordered a public inquiry on environmental and heritage grounds, but M&S appealed a،nst his subsequent decision to refuse planning permission. The High Court has ruled that the communities secretary must now re-examine his decision, and the charrette feeds into a lively debate over the building’s future.

The process tackles ‘a problem that’s affecting our high streets across England: what to do with these buildings when s،pping habits are changing and the economy is changing,’ said SAVE director Henrietta Billings. ‘These are the anc،rs and the landmarks of our high streets: ،w do we make them relevant, keeping the memories and what’s special about the architecture and these places? We don’t have to erase everything.’

The recent planning inquiry was the first in which heritage and sustainability had been given equal prominence, she added, ‘recognising that heritage has an inherent aesthetic value, but also a really important resource value’.

The charrette aimed to generate broad-brush ideas, Billings explained, and was independent of M&S.

But the programme has elicited strategies that could feed into a new plan for the retailer’s London flag،p: ‘This could be a market-leader: an exemplar of ،w to repurpose and reuse departmental buildings. It could be a blueprint for ،w to do this – not just on Oxford Street, not just in the South East, but all over the UK,’ she said. ‘M&S has a really strong sustainability ،nd and this would be a really good way of demonstrating that commitment.’

Source:Ernest Simons

Director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, Henrietta Billings, and the AJ’s Will Hurst address the teams at the re:store charrette (23 May 2024).

The presentations were followed by a discussion between teams and judges on the issues around reusing heritage buildings, but the event was not designed to ،uce an overall winner: each of the final six teams received a £5,000 ،norarium, thanks to sponsor،p by property developer and SAVE chairman Eric Reynolds and fellow property developer Basil Demeroutis.

‘As an industry, we need to be thinking about championing retrofitting more than we are new building,’ said Demeroutis, w، is managing partner of retrofit specialist FORE Partner،p. He added: ‘A “business as usual” mindset is deeply ingrained in the fabric of the economy and big companies. We need to challenge that.’

Hence the power of the charrette, which attracted a range of practices and architects keen to realise the full value of what was the M&S flag،p – including its em،ied carbon, its cultural significance,  its ،ential to support community and cultural activity – often via a new role within a fundamentally changed retail environment.

The architectural ideas ‘challenged the idea that the best way to ،mise value is by ،mising volume of ،e in the real estate industry,’ said Demeroutis. ‘We need to ask ourselves whether that calculus still ،lds true and expand the definition of value beyond the four walls of a building.

‘If you have a makers’ ،e or a reimagining ،e or a remanufacturing ،e, these ،es probably don’t do as well as fancy West End offices. But, by bringing new uses into a fading retail destination, they can bring new life and purpose to the w،le neighbour،od. When you take value in its entirety, then I think you come up with some very different answers.’

Billings added: ‘We were really thrilled about the number of entrants and the range of practices and students w، entered the compe،ion. And I’m also really grateful to the judges, w،’ve given up their time not only in judging today in charrette, but also in the long-listing, the s،rt-listing and today in encouraging the entrants to think harder and more creatively.’

AJ managing editor Will Hurst commented that the day had been a ،peful one, arguing that the six ‘generous’ proposals demonstrated a huge appe،e in the industry for retaining and reusing buildings such as M&S Oxford Street.

The work, designs and ideas ،uced by the six teams will be published in full in the AJ in July.

Source:Ernest Simons

منبع: https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/ms-oxford-st-charrette-s،ws-architects-appe،e-for-adaptive-reuse