Retrofit or New Build?

01 11 2022

Retrofit or new build? Perhaps one of the most passionately debated of contemporary topics.

Refurbishment is certainly the correct answer in many circumstances but the quality of the existing building - or buildings - is a key consideration in informing the best approach. We’ve delivered some great retrofit schemes that adapt and reuse existing structures; The Kensington Building is a fine example. For Marks & Spencer Marble Arch, however, we believe it would be the wrong call.

Marks & Spencer has bold ambitions for its Marble Arch location but the retention of the three existing buildings will bring into question the store’s ability to maintain its long-term presence on Oxford Street, fail to address the abject quality of the surrounding built environment and lead to the creation of poor quality and energy inefficient space.

The proposed scheme, a new build, will create an innovative and sustainable environment that once complete will position the development in the top 6% of workspace projects in the UK in terms of low carbon performance, provide office accommodation of the highest standards of design and wellbeing, repair the broken public realm, secure and celebrate M&S’s rightful place on Oxford Street.

Our designs for M&S HQ will create an exceptional building that will deliver operational carbon reductions over its 120-year design life. These savings will amply repay the initial embodied carbon investment and ensure M&S remains at the heart of Oxford Street - the UK’s shop window - for the next 100 years or more.

The proposals for this ambitous scheme were set out to public inquiry in late October, early November. Across the eight-day hearing, M&S plus a host of expert witnesses examined robust analysis across heritage, sustainability and the future of retail.

See our full presentation here.