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Waitrose, Bracknell

With a list of green credentials as long as your arm, probably longer, the recently opened Waitrose store in Bracknell reaches new heights in supermarket retailing.  Not only is this 25,000 sq ft store incredibly environmentally friendly.  It looks good too!  Both internally and externally this is a well designed store. 

BDP were commissioned to come up with an architecturally led design that would be a focal point as well as linking in with the Bracknell regeneration project.  Naturally, they chose sustainable wood and natural products for its creation.  The building, which features two main canopies with large supporting V joints, is constructed from douglas fir, white wood and larch.  A curved roof falls to the road having a rounded shoulder of roof to soften the massing. 

Whilst mostly single storey, there are two levels at the rear which house the offices and have good views of the surrounding area.  An extensive sedum roof covers the sales floor and a small intensive roof incorporates 80 - 90% of flowering plants.  The upper half of the building is timber clad with coir, a soft wood that is pickled so that it performs like a hard wood with blue engineering brick blocks and custom wall glazing below.

Instore, the layout is spacious, wide aisles invite browsing and signage using simple graphics and the customary Waitrose grey, is simple yet effective.  Shelving follows suit being mostly grey with the addition of wood shelves and white uprights within Homeware, wood shelving and crates in Wines and wood fronted counters with a black brick backing wall in the Delicatessen, to add a touch of class and help differentiate these areas.  Additional natural slatted wood inset with spotlights adds detail and finesse to the ceilings of the wines and fresh food counters. 

This store also sports a very smart café.  A mixture of understated Waitrose style is blended with elegance and a raw naturalness that enhance credibility and exude a contemporary feel.  Period style, wood panelled counters and serving cabinets, comfy sofas, chic café tables and chairs, desirable light features, and exceedingly well displayed produce, create a very formidable and credible café offering.

In addition to the exceptional design and fit-out, this eco store outperforms most others in terms of what it takes from the environment and what it puts back.  It has its own onsite energy centre reducing CO2 emissions by 80% (800 tonnes a year) and providing the outlet’s heating, cooling and electricity needs, as well as burning locally sourced woodchip from Forestry Commission standard sustainable woodlands - 150,000 KWH of power is even fed back to the national grid!  In an attempt to bring nature and wildlife into the town centre from the surrounding fields and woodland, the store also has its own living wall, which is coming along nicely, a green roof, bat and bird boxes, plus a bug hotel in the car park.  And, the large glass store façade maximises the use of natural daylight and sun tubes filter more daylight onto the sales floor.  These tubes located on the ceiling have sensors connected to artificial lighting, which is automatically dimmed or brightened according to light levels.  Even the fixtures and fittings have been adapted to further reduce costs and their effect on the natural world. 

Refrigeration units using propane based, HFC (Hydro Fluoro Carbon) free refrigeration technology were designed to further reduce CO2, whilst cold air spillage from open-front fridges is captured and used to cool other areas and heat produced from the cooling cycle is used to heat the aisles.

Whilst on the face of it none of this is apparent to the customer, who is merely enjoying shopping in such a pleasant store, sustainability and biodiversity have become very fashionable of late and the huge steps taken by this responsible retailer have to be advantageous.  All in all this is a state of the art store on every level and one that even when busy remains calm!

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