18th September 2023

Striking structural solutions for Gucci

Global fashion house Gucci, is not only renowned for its high-end, ultra-chic couture, but also its stores, which reflect the quality and refinement of its clothing. Each one is designed to be a unique, visually-appealing space in which its apparel can take centre-stage.

This was no different when it came to the development of its new London flagship, taking up residence on New Bond Street, in a Grade-II listed former art gallery.

A complex project, requiring a great deal of skill and attention to detail, as well as an understanding of working in historic buildings, the project architects Hyphen, approached Perega to provide structural design and consultancy services.

The team, led by our Senior Engineer, Chris Fewson, knew it would be a challenging project from the outset given the listed-status of the building.

The work required was extensive and intrusive, encompassing the entirety of the site. First and foremost, our engineers concentrated on installing two new steel lift shafts, before creating openings in the existing walls to facilitate the movement of shoppers within the new Gucci layout.

The shafts required the reformation of an existing concrete slab at its top, to accommodate the lift machinery. This became quite a complex task as previous sets of modifications, which had not been done to a particularly high standard, had to be accommodated.

Then our team designed the structural works to facilitate the removal of one of the site’s existing staircases, filling in the void left to create more floorspace within the shop’s interior.

That’s not all, a new plant deck had to be designed and installed on the roof to accommodate the building’s new plantwork. This particular task tested the mettle of our engineers as the deck had to be supported off the existing historic structure. This meant they had to expose the building’s beams and columns on-site, and check they had enough load capacity, leading to some being reinforced to adequately support the deck.

A load assessment was subsequently undertaken for the filler joist floors across the building, to make sure they were able to bear retail loads. This included checking the floor capacity was sufficient to accommodate various fit-out elements and cabinetry.

Every investigation uncovered new, previously unknown quantities, which had to be addressed as they arose. For example, defects within the masonry, including cracking were discovered and resolved, whilst historic rust-ridden steel beams has to be strengthened to prevent structural compromise.

Finally, a new hoarding, which had been specified for the site was unusually heavy, leading to an assessment from Chris and the team. This resulted in temporary beneath-pavement propping being introduced to support the load before it was installed.

Commenting on this extensive, and far-reaching project, Chris said, “This was an all-encompassing job with some unusual surprises thrown in for good measure. It really challenged us. In fact, one task was completely unexpected and a first for the team. What we had assumed was a solid masonry load-bearing wall turned out to have an unexpected historic steel frame embedded within. However, as usual our engineers seized the opportunity to resolve the issue efficiently and quickly developed a solution, detailing the new interior openings to fit around this newly found element.

“Looking at the new store as a whole, it perfectly demonstrates our unique skills in enabling retail and heritage to seamlessly combine in one space.”

The Gucci Store London opened on 5th September 2023.

To find out more about Perega’s work in the retail sector click here.