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There is a growing need to “repurpose” space which has become superfluous to changing requirements and is no longer fit for its original purpose. At the recent “Revo” Conference in Liverpool, estimates of the volume of redundant Retail space varied from 10 to 40% (dependant on location) of current provision.

Colman Architects have specialised in this work since their establishment in 1988 and they have recently completed the latest phase of their strategic repurposing of 120 Oxford Street (a building that they’ve successfully reconfigured and refurbished over a period of 25 years).

This building was originally the “Bourne & Hollingsworth” Department Store (constructed from 1922 to 1927). It occupies an island site within the East Marylebone Conservation Area, with frontage to Oxford Street, Berners Street, Eastcastle Street and Wells Street. It was converted to “The Plaza” Shopping Centre and “Colegrave House” Offices in 1987.


Colman Architects were invited to redesign The Plaza (since it had failed to appeal to its target market) in 1994 and successfully completed its transformation from Basement to 2nd Floor in 1996 under the theme of “Fashion, Food & Fitness” (as they included a new Food Court, Medical Centre and Health & Fitness Club).

In anticipation of changing occupier and customer requirements, they continued to develop a strategy for the whole building (including Colegrave House) and consequently acquired a series of Planning Permissions from Westminster Council from October 2013 to November 2017 to expand, reconfigure and refurbish the Retail, Leisure and Office areas.


This strategy was implemented as Lease Agreements made space available. The scope ranged from extensive Structural works (particularly the creation of new level floor areas), through intricate coordination of Services (especially incoming supplies and vertical risers) to restoration and fine finishes. It was successfully delivered within an occupied building (from 2nd Floor upwards) which typically remained in use from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.


The building’s accommodation now includes a flagship store for Next of 75 000 square feet, a Restaurant of 9 000 square feet for Arros QD, 2 further Retail Units, expanded 2nd Floor Gym and Offices for approximately 1 700 employees of Arcadia.

An increasing number of commercial assets could benefit from the skills which Colman Architects have developed to provide them with a sustainable future.

See more about them at

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