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PROJECT REPORT: RETAIL DEVELOPMENTS


39


To this end, the new centre “needed to be much more part of the town.” It had to link seamlessly into the existing centre – which it does on ground and first floor levels, but it also needed to be “very permeable, very open to the local community.” He says it has achieved this, with improved linkages through from the streets to north and south, and provides better access to bus stops. The central space also provides a new hub for the community, an area that can host events from food festivals to live music.


A twist on tradition


The extended intu centre contains two floors of retail – facing into the central events space, and restaurants facing onto the High Street. Their frontages are broken up into a variety of individual buildings to better integrate the scheme into the local architectural vernacular. Cos explains: “We articulated the buildings, taking some cues from the existing high street.” A number of the new facades have gable walls facing the High Street, and there’s even one with a Dutch gable wall, echoing others in Watford town


ADF NOVEMBER 2019


centre. “Each one is distinct in its own way, and we tried to highlight each of the characteristics of those buildings,” for example using glazed bricks as the coping to the Dutch gables.


Sitting above the retail level of the two new buildings (beginning at first floor level) are, respectively, the nine screen cinema, and the bowling, although the brief was just to provide a ‘warm shell’ for Cineworld – including basic interior structures. Cos says that the previous Charter Place needed improvement in terms of how it addressed the high street: “It was important to maintain the high street, the existing centre didn’t open up as much as it could have.” Being a south facing facade, “it really lent itself to creating some external space.” Working closely with the local authority, Leslie Jones designed a new piece of public realm allowing the restaurants along the front facade to spill out onto. This was a key part of activating the exterior and helping the development merge with the town.


The entrance to the development is signalled by a further twist on traditional


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DIFFERENT CORNERS The project’s entrance is framed by two units which have ‘corner gables,’ leading the eye into the interior of the new extension


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