Harrods has officially unveiled its new Grand Entrance Hall and escalators, a year-long investment project designed by Make Architects.
The £20m investment project has seen the entire redesign of the Grand Entrance Hall and adjoining escalators, and is the most complex refurbishment of the Grade II listed building ever attempted.
The hall was originally built in 1939 by JL Harvey. The concept for Make’s design took inspiration from the Harrods archives, and celebrates the historic architecture of the original building. Layers of post-1930s refurbishments have been stripped away to reveal the original features, and new contemporary interpretations of the materials and finishes have been applied to complement the art deco design, concentrating on the themes of permanence, longevity and elegance.
The simple move to flip the configuration of escalators, thereby mirroring their previous position, has resulted in better circulation and clear sightlines to upper and lower floors, opening up the grand entrance and enticing people into the halls. Lightwells located on the second and fourth floor landings follow their original 1930s design, and have been restored to provide glimpses of the store all the way from the new lower ground contemporary menswear department to the new glass dome that has replaced the 1980s rooflight.
The 16 new escalators themselves 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. Italian White and Black Noir marble provides a robust edge, while an original glass block window that was previously blocked up has been reinterpreted to draw in natural light.
Tracey Wiles, partner at Make, said: “The design concept celebrates the history and heritage of the store while creating a new 21st-century entrance hall with bespoke, contemporary and robust elements to create a new arrival and journey through Harrods. 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.”
Martin Illingworth, Director of Store Development at Harrods, said: “This is one of the most ambitious and complex renovations in Harrods’ history, and we are delighted to open our Grand Entrance Hall doors ahead of the festive season. We took direct inspiration from the Harrods Archives for this redevelopment, tastefully paying homage to the architectural heritage of the brand, but also investing in state of the art digital to enhance the customer experience”.
Harrods and Make worked in close consultation with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea as well as conservation specialists Hillary Bell to ensure the scheme celebrated and preserved the original heritage architecture.
The original 1930s metalwork and glasswork has been recovered, refurbished and reinstated along with original chandeliers. A replica chandelier has been created to feature in the main triple-height entrance hall.
The project has also created new transitional spaces that link the escalator hall with the retail spaces. Acting as portals, these spaces have integrated signage, and together with the reorientation of the escalators aid connectivity and wayfinding.
Make is an award-winning international architectural practice with a reputation for challenging convention and pursuing design excellence. Since we opened our doors in 2004, we’ve worked on more than 1,300 projects worldwide covering a wide range of sectors. We’ve delivered 60 built schemes from studios across three continents, including 39 buildings, 14 interiors and refurbishments and seven smaller design projects. We’ve also achieved 95 planning consents and realised 11 masterplans. Our work is inspired by a singular purpose; to design the best buildings, places and spaces in the world.