Roches Stores

  • Location: Henry Street
  • Architect: Newenham Mulligan Architects
  • Completed: 2004

This building, formerly Roches Stores and now Debenham's, creates a powerful impact on a major retail street. The architects use a series of simple geometric forms and planes to articulate an otherwise blank façade, achieving a dramatic and effective solution. There has been considerable care in the selection of materials, use of light, and scale. It is also acknowledged that the project was carried out while the existing business remained operable without adversely impacting on the architectural design.

The concept was to express the horizontal function of the monolithic nature of the department store in the form of a simple slab wall which is punctured to convey the various internal functions and interact with the street. The form is defined by a slab of stone creating a new urban edge to the street and redefined Roches Stores commercial presence on Henry Street. The white stone crystals catch the sun, acting as a beacon, and contrast to the vertical proportions of the red brick buildings predominately on the street.

Internally the basic design concept was simple: to create a modern retail shopping experience by improving customer circulation, modernise the retail display and the retailing lighting in the building.

The existing store was built in two parts, dividing the space centrally with a spine wall. By removing this it allowed the formation of a full height atrium space in which the elevators were located. This naturally lit atrium provides a central point of orientation organising the customer circulation for the store, giving it a strong retail dynamic. Other existing vertical elements such as stairs and service ducts were also relocated to the perimeter walls to create uninterrupted retail space the client required.

To create the extra retail area an additional floor was constructed over this landlocked site and the existing stockroom areas relocated to an adjacent building. The existing splayed corners are extended and completed with full height glazing to form two dynamic corner atria defining the side entrances to the store.
On the second floor a glass and stone box is cantilevered over the street. The glass floor defines the edge of the building and expresses a new space over the street. This articulates the façade and forms a feature restaurant engaging with the street and creating views along Henry Street towards the Millennium Spire.

Posted by Reflecting City Team on Wednesday, December 17, 2008
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