A temple to shopping
Chapman Taylor + Leach Rhodes Walker
Selfridges Manchester Trafford is a place where one can stroll at a leisurely pace, like in a classical temple. In an unusual layout for a modern shopping centre, the shops are arranged around a central plaza, the floors punctuated by red stone and gold leaf Corinthian columns – an original approach epitomised by the escalator located at the centre of the plaza. The intent was clearly to create an unconventional retail space steeped in the baroque atmospheres of the past, a setting conducive to a slow-paced, high-quality shopping experience that is a far cry from the frenetic pace of the city and fosters a sense of inner harmony. Second only to Harrods, the British chain Selfridges opened its first department store in the prestigious location of London’s Oxford Street in 1901. Many more stores followed over the next few decades, all of which stood out for the quality of their architecture. The Trafford Centre in Manchester, opened in 1998 in the Trafford Park industrial estate in the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford, five miles west of the centre of Manchester, is no exception. Reportedly it was John Whittaker himself, the founder of Peel Holdings – the investment group that developed the Trafford Centre – who convinced the architects that a sumptuous design would not put off buyers. With its distinctive Rococo, late Baroque style along with eclectic elements of Art Deco and Egyptian revival in white, pink, gold, ivory and jade tones and caramel-coloured marble, the Trafford Centre is the UK’s third largest shopping centre in terms of retail space. It extends over five floors, each designed by a different architect but unified by the use of stone and marble for the exterior. The project was awarded to the international architecture giant Chapman Taylor (whose portfolio includes the Caspian Waterfront in Baku, Azerbaijan and the Eldon Square Shopping Centre in Newcastle) in partnership with the local firm Leach Rhodes Walker Architects. And although some of the spaces evoke a more traditional, relaxing and human-scale shopping experience, it is nonetheless one of the most conceptually advanced architecture projects in Europe, “future-proof” as Whittaker himself described it. This can also be seen in the details of the regularly remodelled retail spaces. In the recently opened Selfridges Hair & Beauty Hall, for example, the distinctive personality of the space owes much to the use of products from the Italian ceramic tile company Italgranitigroup. The brand’s White Experience line was chosen for the flooring of the entire space, a marble-effect porcelain that combines contemporary design with the elegant, vintage feel of the surrounding architecture. The hall hosts 170 different beauty sector brands with more than 25,000 different products on sale, offering unique and customised services together with a packed programme of events and activities that bring the space to life. The Apuano colour and the natural finish (as well as the ceramic modules cut to 60×120 cm and other custom sizes) emphasise the beauty of the surfaces with their wealth of veins and geometries, creating the perfect backdrop to the products on display. The practical qualities of porcelain such as durability and ease of cleaning are also much appreciated in such a busy space.
Italgraniti, White Experience
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): < 0,5%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): compliant
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): 175 mm3 max.
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): 35 N/mm2 min.
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): compliant
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant