Original art-deco heritage finds have been blended with contemporary design for the high-end store’s new-look entrance hall
Architect: Make Architects
Conservation architect: Hilary Bell
Lighting designer: Nulty
Size: 1,244 sq m
Duration: 10 months
Words by Emily Martin
Luxury London brand Harrods has unveiled its new Grand Entrance Hall and escalators’ refurbishment, as completed by UK-based architecture practice Make Architects. The project forms part of a series of high-profile refurbishments and modernisation that have been going on in the store since acquired by new owners in 2010.
Included in the refurbishment is the famed ‘Egyptian staircase’ (love it or hate it), as also undertaken by Make in 2013 to now echo an art-deco past.
Original Thirties’ metalwork and glasswork has been recovered and refurbished. Image Credit: Zander Olsen
Make’s treatment for the redesign of the Grand Entrance Hall and adjoining escalators also follow a similar concept, with the practice diving into the Harrods archives to produce a scheme inspired by the architecture of the original building. Layers of post-Thirties refurbishments have been stripped away to reveal original features, as well as new contemporary interpretations being added to complement the building’s art-deco design.
Mirror panels are branded. Image Credit: Make Architects
‘The design concept celebrates the history and heritage of Harrods, while creating a new 21st-century entrance hall,’ says Tracey Wiles, partner at Make Architects. ‘[The] bespoke, contemporary and robust elements create a new arrival and journey through Harrods.’
The original Thirties’ metalwork and glasswork has been recovered, refurbished and reinstated and, thanks to original and replica chandeliers, the space is flooded with light.
Walls and floors are clad in white Grigio Ginevra marble. Image Credit: Zander Olsen
As well as a lighting scheme delivered by Nulty, natural light also fills the space partly owing to the uncovering of an original window above the entrance door. Lightwells on the second and fourth-floor landings follow their original Thirties’ design, while a new glass dome has replaced the Eighties’ roof light.
Make Architects also reversed the escalator configuration – thereby mirroring their previous position – which has resulted in better circulation and clear sightlines to upper and lower floors and opening up the grand entrance. The 16 new escalators have been designed to be sculptural rather than purely functional, with bespoke ribbed and fluted nickel-bronze cladding used to define the fluidity and emphasise the movement. White Grigio Ginevra marble clads the walls and covers the floors in the hall, while Noir St Laurent black marble surrounds portal entrances and digital screens.
A total of 16 new escalators have been installed. Image Credit: Make Architects
The project has also created new transition spaces that link the escalator hall with the retail spaces. Acting as portals, these spaces have integrated signage with the reorientation of the escalators aiding connectivity and wayfinding.
Although recognising the need for a contemporary retailer to modernise, Harrods and Make worked in close consultation with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea as well as conservation architect Hilary Bell to ensure the scheme celebrated and preserved the building’s original heritage architecture.
‘This is now a worthy grand entrance hall, one that showcases craftsmanship and attention to detail and champions the brand values of Harrods, which are synonymous with timeless elegance,’ says Wiles.
Glazing and glasswork
Dernier & Hamlyn