Community Shopping Centres - Case Study 1

Over the course of the past four years the studio has designed and delivered two very different community-rooted retail and leisure projects. This first case study concerns a new build development in a traditional Victorian street that focusses on a providing for the needs of the local economy.

East Shopping Centre located on Green St in East London has been built by a London consortium on the site of a former bus depot. The site had lain derelict for years as successive developers failed to come up with viable schemes. It was designated Town Centre but due to its unusual shape, being approx. 250 m deep but only 28-30 m wide it had proved unsuitable for conventional retail formats. A further complication was that the site was bounded on both sides by dense two storey terraced housing. This placed a further constraint on the height of the new construction which needed to conform to the section of the former depot

Our clients’ brief was to create a modern centre that built upon the reputation of Green St as a destination for Asian shopping, in particular fashion and accessories focussed on seasonal, festival and family wedding markets. There were already a number of shops on Green St specialising in this sector, typified by sales areas on the ground floor and fitting rooms and tailoring upstairs. Our planning case officer at Newham was also responsible for enforcement in the street and was beset by a number of enforcement cases of unapproved alterations to building frontages where front bay windows had been replaced with two storey glazed facades. Although these conversions were often clumsy and unsympathetic to the traditional fabric of the street they were a clear illustration of what the market was looking for in terms of format and merchandise display.

From the site constraints and analysis of the street we evolved a particular unit typology of a new-build two storey lock-up facing on to a 6m mall. By placing the mall off centre we generated two unit depths of circa 8m and 15 m with a bay width of 5m and 6m. This created two typical modules of 1000 sq ft and 1750 sq ft with flexibility to combine at ground floor, first floor or double up to suit market demand. In all 34 units were created arranged either side of a mall, punctuated by three courts. The mall leads to a souk at ground floor, the traditional market space of the Asian community, and food court above, the social hub of the centre. In total circa 45,000 sq ft of new retail space was granted planning permission in 2013.

After 18 months construction East opened its doors in spring 2015 and one year later reported annual footfall figures of 2.5 million with the current year promising more. The centre is a successful addition to the retail community of the area. As a retail environment it has raised the bar for the street such that others will have to follow to keep up and it is attracting new Asian retail and food brands into the area. Our clients own and actively manage the centre with a weekly and annual programme of events and promotions that appeal to the core customers and encourage new customers to the centre and the street.


Tags: Architecture, Wren

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