Location: Leicester, UK
Date: 2016
Client: Hammerson
Status: Concept Design
Size: 3.000 sqm
Credits: Friedrich Ludewig, Jolanda Putri, Jack Taylor
Leicester grew wealthy through textile production, and the city centre retains a large amount of impressive Victorian buildings from that time. Since the 1950s, the city centre has seen a number of developments that have significantly changed the historic urban fabric, replacing streets and creating internalised shopping malls.
Highcross Leicester is the dominant shopping destination, created in the 1980s through the amalgamation of several urban blocks and streets. The prominent location demands an appropriate response to the site context, yet the entrance is suffering from an ‘identity crisis’: historic shop fronts and façades have been demolished, losing the rhythm and solidity of the architecture. The lost street has been filled in with a confused bit of 1990s architecture.
The proposal for the Highcross entrance uses the language of the historic terracotta façade above to create a new Highcross Arcade, defined by terracotta arches and restrained brass detailing for shop windows. In the lost Bond Street a mirror-polished stainless steel sculpture is inserted to give new sense of depths and interest to the gap between two historic corner buildings. With this contemporary intervention, the entrance asserts its presence in the city with an architectural response that respects and enhances the existing historic buildings.