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TAG-Heuer flagship store

Part 2 Project 2008
Stephen Crawford
London South Bank University London UK
I wanted to express TAG Heuer’s pursuit of high end and innovative technologies. My analysis focuses on the profound contrasts across the site (environment/function/etc.), mainly manifest in sound levels. Consequently, the form responds in such a way that the higher the sound levels, the larger the scale of the building becomes from pedestrian path to motorway, thus providing a buffer between the motorway and river/shopping centre.

There are two means of access; an automated car parking system that delivers the drivers to the shop floor (with pinpoint clockwork precision), and a dedicated circulation relating to the shopping centre. Three indented lightwells penetrate the building to provide light into and below the building, while acting as giant sundials to the sunken garden below.

The internal programme is organised around cascading lightweight steel-grated floorplates, split into two zones; the company offices, and shop floor. These floorplates separate to allow the users to view the undulating skin below them.

The skin of the raised building is formed from translucent pre-cast concrete panels (allowing diffused light in during the day, with the envelope glowing like a beacon in the evening); these panels are held in steel brackets attached to an undulating spaceframe. The building creates a strong visual memory of itself to the speeding motorist, varying in intensity depending on light conditions. Each pre-cast concrete panel and spaceframe member is part of a bar-coded kit of parts to be assembled on site.

Stephen Crawford


In designing for the unloved surroundings of the North Circular Road where it flashes past the Brent Cross Shopping Centre, Stephen has faced and accepted a major challenge. His TAG-Heuer flagship store is all about a flamboyant, structures-led architecture; the undulating spaceframe shifts restlessly over a difficult and largely abandoned site. Much like the fine watches Stephen's store promotes and sells, the project is as much about its inner workings as the ravishing external casework that attracts the attention of the speeding motorist. It is the care with which the interior spaces of the project are developed that is so convincing, as well as the canny environmental analysis that found the original form. Light funnels slice through the section, admitting real sunshine to the inevitably deep plan; a sunken garden provides breathing space for distracted shoppers anxious they have made the right consumer choice. There is a great deal of technical and constructional invention here; Stephen has been unafraid to work from first principles.

His drawings and a nicely sinuous model show how powerful this store could be when acting as a marker in an unmarked place where undistinguished ribbon development is the norm; hopefully one fine piece of architecture can encourage others along this impersonal strip of freeway. And despite the commercial purpose of the building, rainwater harvesting, the use of massive heat stores, and the visual removal of cars from an environment almost wholly defined by vehicles shows a real engagement with many of architecture's other (and equally critical) responsibilities. TAG watches have a granitic, solid quality to them, offset by well wrought, finely balanced mechanical movements; this architecture is a worthy analogue of that design philosophy, as well as an outstanding piece of work in its own right.

Tutor(s)
Ms Lilly Kudic

2008
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