British Land and Debenhams have revealed the stunning new look for the renowned 334-348 Oxford Street building which occupies a prime position on one of the busiest shopping streets in the world.
It is the first time in the property's 41 year history that the exterior has been altered.
The 370,000 sq ft department store will be revitalised using an innovative over-cladding system designed by world renowned artist and sculptor Ned Kahn in conjunction with Archial Architects that will create a captivating interactive façade in keeping with the site's prominent location next to the upgraded Bond Street underground and Crossrail station.
The design showcases a new approach to public art by incorporating it within the fabric of the building itself. The ‘Kinetic Façade' is a first for the UK and will move in response to the wind. The building's façade will appear to ripple fluidly as the wind activates thousands of suspended aluminium panels. As it responds to the ever-changing patterns of the wind, the façade will create a direct interface between the built and natural environments. The store will continue trading throughout the works, which also include the removal of the existing canopy to increase the height of the shopfront glazing, improving the shopping experience and enhancing the store's sense of arrival.
Works are underway with completion scheduled for February 2014. The project will create more than 90 temporary construction jobs.
Charles Maudsley, Head of Retail for British Land, said: "We are delighted to revitalise one of the most well-known buildings in our retail portfolio and transform it into something truly exceptional.
"It is testament to our strong relationship with Debenhams that as well as moving its headquarters to our West End office estate Regent's Place and opening at Leamington Shopping Park and Fort Kinnaird, we are also helping the company create a flagship store on London's main shopping street."
Michael Sharp, Chief Executive of Debenhams, added:
"Our vision is to create a branded environment that redefines Debenhams in the Oxford Street store and beyond. We are creating a vibrant and relevant concept for the future.
"Once completed Oxford Street will be a true flagship store. It will showcase the best of everything Debenhams has to offer and it will set the standard in the UK, and become a beacon for international expansion with a new façade that transforms the look of the store.
"Inside there will be a dramatic transformation to create a benchmark department store experience which is enticing, inspiring and celebrates what makes us unique."
British Land has a £430 million department store portfolio which comprises nine stores covering 2.1 million sq ft. Eight of these, comprising 1.6 million sq ft, are leased to Debenhams. The retailer also trades from Meadowhall Shopping Centre in Sheffield, Eastgate Shopping Centre in Basildon, Nugent Shopping Park in Orpington and has taken a 40,000 sq ft unit at Leamington Shopping Park in Leamington Spa which opens in November and a 60,000 sq ft pre-let at Fort Kinnaird Shopping Park in Edinburgh - all owned or managed by British Land.
The retailer will also relocate its headquarters to 174,500 sq ft at British Land's 10 Brock Street scheme at Regent's Place in summer 2013, taking approximately half of the total space being developed. This allows a significant proportion of the fifth floor of the Oxford Street store to be converted to trading space further expanding the customer offer.
British Land and Debenhams agreed a sale-and-leaseback of the store in 2005 for a 35 year term. Debenhams first acquired the site in 1919 and first began trading less than 150 metres away at 44 Wigmore Street in 1778.
The design marks a new era for the department store that was originally constructed between 1968 and 1971 and was remodelled internally in 1987. Externally the building remains as it was first built.
Source: British Land www.britishland.com 11. June 2013