by Jerry ElengicalFeb 25, 2022
Scotland’s oldest independent department store Jenners, located on the Princes Street in Edinburgh, is going to see a major overhaul soon by London-based David Chipperfield Architects. The new development aims to preserve the historic and architectural sanctity of the listed structure which is known to have had revolutionised the shopping experience when it opened in 1895. Jenners was the first department store in the UK to showcase products ranging from haberdashery and ladies fashion to mantels, wardrobes and fancy goods. Having carried two extensions that date back to 1903 and 1966, the 17,500 sqm building is spread across nine floors and was acquired by real estate company AAA United in 2017.
The proposal introduced by the practice of British architect David Chipperfield looks to accommodate new commercial programs within Jenners’ built fabric in addition to revitalising its Victorian architecture. Some of the key facilities which are part of the project include a high-end hotel comprising 10,000 sqm of space and over 100 rooms on the building’s neglected upper floors, 7000 sqm retail interventions on lower levels, and cafes and restaurants occupying the rest of the building. A highlight among these facilities is the restoration of a central atrium called The Grand Saloon. In its previous avatar, the three storey glass roof space used to deliver a delightful shopping experience as visitors would stroll through its wide aisles, interacting with displays at their leisure. The restoration seeks to give a new life to the saloon while preserving its former glory.
Another aspect which is part of Chipperfield’s plan is opening of the double-height atrium over the Princes Street with the intent to flush light and grandeur into the building. As per the building’s archival literature, the original lightwell was infilled in the 1930s to involve additional floor space. A turret which was formerly designed but never executed as part of the extension will also be constructed in the new layout. The inclusion of the new spaces within Jenners unpins the simple idea of reviving the lost splendour of the landmark store and to establish its space both in the city’s current and future urbanism.
Chipperfield’s plan also presents the refurbishment of Jenners’ Victorian façade. Elsewhere, the frontage of the 1966 extension will receive a complete makeover on its lower storeys while the upper floors will retain their original features. The striking mansard roof of Jenners will see an increased area to house facilities to create a rooftop restaurant and a bar overlooking St Andrew Square. Being mindful of the building’s carbon footprint, the architecture plans to maximise the use of the original built fabric, and minimally adapt the historic features in view of aesthetic, functional and climatic needs through contemporary technology like secondary glazing and internal insulation.
While a series of works have already started inside Jenners which involves the removal of modern fittings to expose the structure’s original features, David Chipperfield Architects’ planning application is awaiting a response from The City of Edinburgh Council.