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CRM Architects


Early in 2009 CRM Architects was invited by Fairgate Investments Limited to consider proposals for the redevelopment of a retail park of deteriorating quality at Narborough Road/ Braunstonegate, Leicester. Working in conjunction with project managers, Redbourn Group, and the design team, proposals were prepared, tenant interest established and discussions entered into with the local planning authority.

It became clear that Leicester City Highways department had significant aspirations for the highways system around the site and so, following land swap negotiations, a revised plan was agreed. Part of the exchanged site area incorporated an old Victorian brick-built egg sewer that had to be diverted due to its position beneath one corner of the proposed building. There were also a number of TPO trees along the boundary of the site.

 The planning department at Leicester played an important lead role in identifying the scope of the site, the implications of the removal of the tree screen and crucially the requirement for a building of significant style for this important location on one of the arterial roads into Leicester.

By early 2010 the site layout, additional highways works, sewer diversions, style of building and specific tenant requirements had been distilled into an agreed scheme. Planning consent was granted and details of the scheme worked up so that an archaeological survey could be undertaken on the site. Roman remains had previously been found on the site and our investigations, carried out by Leicester University Archaeology Group, confirmed those findings and obtained further samples from the site.

Vinci Construction UK was appointed Main Contractor and works started in November 2011 with sewer diversion and highways works so that the building construction works could start in January 2012. Vinci was also appointed to carry out the tenant fit out works and this has enabled a fast-track construction programme for the building to be complete in time for trade opening in July 2012.

Creating a small carbon footprint for the building is upper-most in the minds of designers at the moment and so CRM Architects worked to incorporate energy saving measures within the project. These included using reconstituted cladding panels made from compressed waste stone materials for the building façade, SUDS drainage to the car park area to reduce drainage out-fall rates, rainwater harvesting to provide grey water for the wc facilities, combined heat and power systems, passive natural air ventilation flumes to the main retail area, large areas of glazing to afford views out and increase building envelope permeability together with deep daylight penetration enhanced by large roof lights above the retail area. The design of the building is predicated on the desire of the local planning authority for a building of quality facing onto Narborough Road to compensate for the loss of trees and opening up the views into the site.

The design needed to be a sculptured form in order to justify the setting, tight on the main road, and so incorporated a modelled outward sloping façade of planar-style glazing and polished reconstituted stone incorporating deep canopies and lobbies to the west and south elevations. This provides a degree of passive solar control whilst allowing glazed elevations to express the visual permeability of the designed envelope, as expected by the retail tenant. Flush facing materials and a raking transition from glass to stone establishes a homogenous design style whilst creating movement in three dimensions on the façade and enhancing the sculptural context.

CRM Architects are the BREEAM assessors on this project where reducing the building carbon foot print is a key element of the design process. The retail store has been designed to achieve a BREEAM “very good” rating standard.