We were invited to participate in an international design competition for Albany Works, a Super Eco supermarket and neighbouring housing scheme in the Midlands. We won the competition with our proposals and went on to develop the scheme for planning. We worked with a specialist retail architect on the design of the food store. The store was to achieve a BREAM outstanding rating.
The housing development was to provide 26 NO. Code Level 5 sustainable homes that would benefit from the food store facing location. It was important to treat the housing design hand in hand with that of the food store to ensure a holistic design approach to all parts of the site.
Our design proposals looked to provide an alternative food buying experience to the familiar supermarket-buying culture. The built environment to support this experience, will re-establish the importance of food, growing and healthy eating for those in living in the area. The venues we utilise to buy our foods are no longer the community based hubs that they once were.
The design approach for both the food store and the residential scheme focused on the three following ideas:
Greening: We could look to introduce areas of vegetation into the shopping experience and throughout the development site. Within the food store, this would not only break up the large uniform spaces with pockets of nature, but would remind shoppers of the source of their food.
For the residential scheme, the use of climbing walls will encourage home owners to grow their own produce.
Market: A market space adjacent to the food store would not only provide the site with an engaging public space, but would also look to provide an area for more transient trade than offered by the food store. The open air experience of buying food and products is more accessible and could support local suppliers and produce.
Food Theatre: The introduction of interactive food experiences within the food store could create a ‘food theatre,’ opportunity. Visitors to the food store would engage with a more personal and intriguing shopping experience, increasing shopper’s confidence to try new foods and engage with the products that they are buying. A cafe and education unit within the food store could offer cooking classes and community meeting space.