Department Store in Birmingham
Future Systems can look back on a long series of organically shaped building designs. The architects have now realized their largest project of this kind to date for Selfridges in Birmingham, England. The clients wanted a forward-looking structure that would symbolize the renewal of this old industrial city.
The gleaming silver curves of the building are visible from afar. Docked into an existing shopping complex, the biomorphic structure extends over the sloping site to the east and rises to a height of 35 metres.
Externally, it is covered with a homogeneous, sequin-like skin of 600 mm diameter polished anodized-aluminium discs that create fascinating lighting effects. The entrances and display windows at the base have a wave-like outline, with a white-backed, golden-yellow edging to the glazing. The views from the upper floors are framed in a similar manner, while from an oval opening 17 m above the ground a curved bridge spans the distance toa neighbouring parking block. The building has a steel load-bearing structure, and the various floors are drawn round acentral top-lighted atrium. The outer skin, which also has a stiffening function, consists of a layer of sprayed concrete on steel mesh, a layer of insulation, and a thin coating of waterproof blue-painted concrete. At night, the store isilluminated from below in a blue tone, which accentuates the rich colour of the skin.