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HS2 Meadowhall 2034 // Retail Futures

Part 2 Project 2014
Abigail Watts-Cherry
University of Sheffield | UK
Technological advancements are transforming our shopping habits.

Set in 2034, within the context of High Speed 2 (HS2), a proposed rail route between London and Leeds, this masterplan explores how the construction of a new type of retail infrastructure within an HS2 station at Meadowhall Shopping Centre (Sheffield), can adapt to the potential future implications of the retail industry.

The ability to order goods instantly using sophisticated mobile devices will lead to an increasingly virtualised shopping experience. The role of the physical shop will therefore evolve from being a place of transaction, to one that fulfils the service-led functions that digital retail cannot; taking on many of the ideals of the Victorian department store, the shop of the future will be a theatrical, experiential space, for branding, events and showcasing products.

Contrasting with the static architecture of neighbouring Meadowhall Shopping Centre, ‘HS2 Meadowhall Station’ is an ever-changing landscape, where retail fabric is in constant evolution, adapting to seasonal and product changes. Small and start-up retail businesses sit temporarily amongst the station’s functions in order to establish their brand and benefit from the high footfall.

Portable retail units are digitally fabricated in-house in pieces, then transported and assembled at their location on the retail floor. After use, the units are flat-packed and distributed at the Distribution Railway Terminal at ground floor, to their next location in the country.

The station’s external façade expresses the internal programme of digital fabrication, where bioplastic cladding panels are computer generated based on an environmentally responsive algorithm. This construction strategy means that the panels can be fabricated in-house, by workers and visitors to the fabrication centre, allowing an interactive, user-involved building process.

The ‘Portable Retail Centre’ can be established at any transport or hub setting across the country and, with the increasing convenience of high speed travel, it will offer national exposure to retail businesses and market stalls from all over the country.

This model offers an opportunity for the small independent retailer, that defines the Great British High Street, to survive in the rise of an increasingly digitalised shopping experience, dominated by large retail chains.

Abigail Watts-Cherry


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