Replacement Retail Tensile

Re-use | Reduce | Recycle

Sutton Coldfield Mall in Birmingham was originally built in 1974 as The Gracechurch Shopping Centre. Given its age and the changing trends in retail design and development, there have been several improvement projects at Gracechurch over the years. Most recently a project began to “breath new life” into the centre’s facilities by removing and replacing the tensile structures that had come to the end of their lifespan.

Fabric Architecture designed and engineered a new retail tensile to replace the old one, which sits at the heart of the mall – a double conic form measuring 300sqm and fixed at various points around its perimeter to the surrounding buildings. Centrally the canopy is supported by 2 angled main masts, down to ground level. Overall the structure stands at 10m tall, providing a large covered space for shoppers to stay sheltered and for additional retail area with smaller outdoor kiosks.

In the lead up to the Christmas period, it was essential that retail operating hours and turnover were not compromised. However the location of the canopy and its position at the heart of the mall presented some operational challenges. Work at height was carried out during the night under dedicated task lighting for both the dismantle and the re-installation, allowing the centre to remain open to public as normal during the day, without any detrimental effect to trade over the festive season.

The Gracechurch project was delivered successfully without a negative effect on retail turnover over the festive season. The retail tensile canopy continues to provide much needed cover for shoppers and outdoor retailers, with the area underneath being significantly brighter in look and feel as a result of the new fabric. This has helped the shopping centre attract more visitors, allowing them to successfully compete with other, new-build shopping centres nearby.


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