Barkers, London

Relsa Properties Establishment
Structural Engineer
Commercial Buildings
Heritage & Culture
Central London
Emrys Architects

So many of the great architectural eras have shaped London, it would be easy to forget the city’s Art Deco gems. Grade II listed Barkers of Kensington, which helped shape the Kensington High Street we know today, opened in 1938 standing six storeys tall, sits firmly in that category.

Acquired by House of Fraser in the 1950s, the department store ceased to operate as such in the 1980s.The upper floors were re-developed as offices, which included forming a large atrium from the first floor upwards in the centre of the building

These now-tired spaces are receiving a modernised look and feel by Emrys Architects with Civic Engineers’ structural design work at the helm. Most of the building will be stripped back to the structure and redesigned to completely revitalise the circulation patterns within the building and provides refurbished CAT-A commercial space with exposed services.

The centre-piece of the scheme will be a re-invigorated atrium with informal meeting spaces, a café and high-level walkways and bridges to provide better connectivity throughout the building. A new feature stair and panoramic lifts will be provided for vertical circulation, bringing the atrium back into the heart of the building.

This design work calls for creative engineering. The walkways will be as light as possible to maintain design and structural integrity while maximising a sense of space and room; all while being serviceable for relatively large loads.

At the street level, the main entrance will be enlarged and additional lifts and a grand staircase up to the base of the atrium provided. The secondary entrance will be enhanced by creating a double height space. To achieve these interventions, several supporting columns will need to be removed.

At the top of the building a new rooftop bistro is planned, which will require an additional story to be added behind what is currently a plant screen. This is being considered as a lightweight steel structure, kept as unobtrusive as possible when viewed from the street. Several existing roof spaces will also be opened as terraces with extensive planting to provide a green sanctuary for workers during the week.

Parts of the ground, basement and first floors will remain operational retail while the work is carried out.

Project CGI Credits to Emrys.

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