Squire and Partners build relationship between retail & residence at new Reiss HQ
This limited competition to design the new headquarters of fashion house Reiss was won with a provocative idea about representation and display. The building would need to function as an icon for the Reiss brand on a site in Barrett Street, directly overlooked by the hordes of shoppers that pass down Oxford Street.
The headquarters would also accommodate a vertical sandwich of different functions with the flagship Reiss store on the first two floors, and above it three storeys of offices, cutting rooms and design studios. A further floor would provide corporate meeting rooms and David Reiss's office, to be finally surmounted by a penthouse flat.
With this arrangement in mind, the Barrett Street façade was conceived as a dynamic and translucent filter, presenting a semblance of the varied activities behind it while still preserving the capacity to change. The façade consists of a double-glazed glass layer lying behind an acrylic rain-screen.
The acrylic is assembled in panels with periodic openings inducing a stack effect to cool this south-facing glazed façade. The acrylic layer has a complex machined profile - solid panels of acrylic are cut away by large vertical gauges of varying width and depth, within which are etched even finer vertical striations.
The abstract effect is similar to that of a bar code but when viewed obliquely takes on the shimmering quality of a sheet of silk. The effect changes at night when the acrylic is edge-lit giving it the capacity to vary the building's appearance.
Horizontal slabs of up-lit fair-faced concrete balance the vertical emphasis of the façade, and the diagonal form of a staircase running from the second to the fourth floors offsets the orthogonal frame. The HQ has won an RIBA Award, a Civic Trust Award and a British Council for Offices award.