Department store Debenhams is dramatically revamping the exterior of its flagship on London’s Oxford Street for the first time in the shop’s 41-year history.
The 200,000 sq ft department store, owned by British Land, will be revitalised using an “innovative” over-cladding system that aims to create a ‘Kinetic Façade’, which will move in response to the wind.
Debenhams said it is a first for the UK, and that the “captivating interactive façade” is in keeping with the site’s prominent location on one of the world’s busiest shopping streets.
“The building’s façade will appear to ripple fluidly as the wind activates thousands of suspended aluminium panels,” Debenhams said. “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 revamp has been designed by artist and sculptor Ned Kahn in conjunction with Archial Architects.
Debenhams will also remove the existing canopy to increase the height of the shopfront glazing, to improve the shopping experience and enhance the store’s “sense of arrival”.
Works are underway with completion scheduled for November this year. The store will continue trading throughout the works.
Debenhams chief executive Michael Sharp said: “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 head of retail Charles Maudsley said: “We are delighted to begin revitalising 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 Fort Kinnaird next year, we are also helping the company create a flagship store on London’s main shopping street.”
The retailer will also relocate its headquarters to British Land’s 174,500 sq ft 10 Brock Street scheme at Regent’s Place in summer 2013, taking approximately half of the total space being developed. This will allow a “significant proportion” of the fifth floor of the Oxford Street store to be converted to trading space further expanding the customer offer.