Reminding us that there are many ways to approach sustainable architecture, the original 1950s Mark & Spencer’s headquarters has recently been renovated using all local materials, by British design firm Make. Much of the design within the 55 Baker Street building has been made by local British designers, such as the foyer interior by furniture maker Davison Highley, lifts by Elan, and toilet roll holders by the London-based-ironmonger izé. We’re all for making the old fresh again using local talent and ingenuity.

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Just like eating locally reduces food miles, sourcing materials locally reduces building miles, reducing CO2 emitted in travel and shipping. It’s also made it easier for the architects to work with the bespoke designers they ordered furniture off. “If they had sent their drawings to the Far East, they wouldn’t have got the nuances of the detail that we were able to produce,” says sales director, Tim Armitt.

Instead of demolishing the existing building, architecture firm Make decided to leave most of the building in place and only refurbish the interior, saving energy and materials. 50% of the existing building fabric remains. The foyer’s 12 columns were replaced with a sculptural tree-like structure made by Watts in Bolton. It’s on castors, allowing it to be moved through the building.

Over the years, M&S added more and more non-structural elements to the interior, creating a veritable warren. Make stripped all of these away, fitting out the existing concrete infrastructure with a seven-storey atrium to be lit by programmable LEDs, designed by Jason Bruges studio in Shoreditch to be controlled by a host of guest artists. The building also makes use of bespoke chilled beams with holes which can be controlled individually to maximise energy efficiency and reduce running costs and carbon emissions.

The 93,000 square meter space has been awarded a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating. It’s located between Marylebone and Oxford Street at 55 Baker Street should you want to take a peek when you’re in the area. (From Building)

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