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Fenwick Newcastle

Updated: May 10


Fenwick Newcastle's New Exterior Design by Mailen Design

PROJECT SUMMARY

Since opening over 140 years ago, the Fenwick flagship store in Newcastle upon Tyne has become a resilient icon of the North East.


The founders and current owners have instigated a bold reinvigoration of the business and the store, calling on Mailen Design to revitalise and reintegrate the Fenwick storefront into the contemporary retail environment, while celebrating the intrinsic, historic DNA of the store and all it represents.


Fenwick Newcastle design by Mailen Design

The Fenwick success story has always been synonymous with quality, pride and success; virtues reflected in the industrial heritage of the city and its surroundings.


Inspired by this legacy, Mailen Design’s team have carefully surfaced a wealth of different design cues and material selections into the storefront’s bold new look.


The entire Northumberland Street shopfront is held together by a continuous horizontal metal canopy, showcasing a green steel ‘girder’ fascia that is both industrially rugged, yet refined through its highly crafted decoration featuring subtle shapes taken from Fenwick’s own logo.


The famous Fenwick green also features as part of the shimmering dichromatic paintwork, as the various tones blend and react to different lighting conditions and viewpoints - an intelligent, dynamic blending of symbiotic classic and future.


Together, this creates a consistent brand and architecture language that is unmistakably, immediately Fenwick.



The new storefront’s influence extends past the doors, windows and canopy.


Fenwick offers a unique role at the heart of the pedestrianised retail district; a vital retail and civic presence in the city.


In seeking to improve footfall and the store’s engagement with the thoroughfare outside, Mailen Design’s new storefront involves relocating main entrances to the centre of the Northumberland Street facade. While accentuating the relationship between the store and this key shopping street, the design also celebrates some of Fenwick’s previous entrance layouts.



Moving main access points from corners of shopfront to a more central location also provides an opportunity to introduce a more fluid and experiential entry sequence and greater engagement with the streetscape. This potentially turns a shopfront to walk past into one that you filter through, engage with and explore.


As the street is on a hill, the entire paving structure needed to be raised to allow for footfall and disabled shoppers - essentially changing the whole nature of the street.


Through extensive engagement with Newcastle County Council and their landscape designers and engineers, the architects have manipulated the street levels to enable a level threshold entrance to the store from a sloping street without affecting drainage, services and other neighbouring retailers.


All to re-establish the regenerated Fenwick flagship store at the heart of the city’s continued progression.


URBAN FABRIC GROWTH

The diagrams below document the evolution of the footprint of the Fenwick store over time in line with the development of the urban fabric of this part of central Newcastle.


Urban Fabric Growth Fenwick Newcastle

These illustrations were created using a mixture of archive material shown in historical maps of the city and preserved Architectural drawings going back to the late 1880’s. They show an organic growth of the store over time, created through the gradual acquisition of local real-estate, alongside the growth of the urban fabric of the City.


From the original double fronted store to Northumberland Street, the footprint has gradually come to address three key streets: Northumberland Street, Brunswick Place, and Blackett Street. With the creation of the Eldon Square shopping mall in the late 1970’s, the store eventually becomes a connected part of the retail landscape. The result of this organic growth is that the store has an irregular footprint, structural grid and layout save for the upper levels of the Northumberland Street facade created in 1913.


The following images document how the evolution of the shopfront to Northumberland Street and how it combined with Brunswick Place to create an exciting multi-dimensional threshold experience.


In recent times the physical engagement with Northumberland Street has reduced in place of a largely impenetrable shopfront.




DEVELOPMENT OF THE SHOPFRONT

The Architecture of the store on Northumberland Street has been through a number of guises, most significantly at street level. The image of the store in the late 1880’s shows an elaborate curved glass frontage with a double entrance to the centre of the floorplan, sitting below a formal facade of Georgian proportions.


This phase of the building develops in the early 1900’s to have a number of deep openings with curved glass to both Northumberland Street and Elswick Court, held together by a continuous horizontal fascia and canopy. The occupation of the roof of the ground floor protrusion creates further elaboration to the street facade.





The major development of the Architecture came in 1913 when a series of new and existing plots were demolished to create the full Beaux Arts facade to the upper levels, which still exists today. This attempted to unify the real estate on Northumberland Street into a single architecture with symmetry and proportion. However due to the organic growth of the store over time, the location of structural columns at ground level created a mixture of doorways and openings with long deep glass vitrines leading to a threshold set back from the streetscape.


From late 1940’s an arcade typology attempted to bring a unification of the ground floor shopfront with the new facade above through a central entrance around a central glass display vitrine. This central hierarchy was accentuated through a continuous horizontal canopy and bold signage aligned with the layout of the facade above and entrances below.





At this time customers filtered around a series of glass boxes into a covered but external arcade displaying goods to the public observer before being greeted by the entrance doors to the store. These glass boxes were a clever way of concealing the irregular layout of structural columns in a seemingly regular and symmetrical facade layout.


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