As the high street economy fades in the face of a pandemic, ground level retail units are becoming increasingly unoccupied; once joyful and vivid street fronts are boarded up. A wider debate on how the high street, planning bodies, and councils can respond to these changes is vital. Within this context, our Street Front proposal addresses an urgent crisis and proposes a long-term solution.
In the form of a new design for the adaptation of the ubiquitous storefront, Street Front Life aims to revive shops into adaptable and flexible workspaces and studios in a way that can be beneficial for both owners and tenants. Providing a much-needed vision for the units, communities, and the everyday streetscapes that are familiar to all, the design considers a single unit of this former high-street, and aims to serve as an adaptable model for other unoccupied storefront typologies.
The proposal takes the form of an external addition that replaces the existing front facade. Daylight is maximised with the external addition of a ‘reversed awning’; a reflective shutter installed on the upper portion of the windows that reflects sunlight deeper into the interior. The inspiration of the reflective shutter is taken from 19th and 20th Century formerly Victorian shopfront additions that placed makeshift panels on the upper portions of their windows to reflect natural light inside. Installed as lightweight additions onto the external façade, they resemble a timber counterpart to a typical shop awning.
Taking inspiration from Victorian pubs, the design features pull-down seats that fold into the panelled stallrisers, aiding the revitalisation of the street by accommodating spaces for sitting.
Flexibility of privacy for the units is heightened by the addition of an internal folding timber panelled shutter. When closed, the screen allows the main space to function independently with a display space for shop products at the front.
Together with the articulation of awnings, a stepped façade, and the retention of the original pilasters and fascia, the Street Front proposal creates a lively and animated scene that recreates the qualities, character, and values of the traditional street front whilst adopting a new form suited for use as adaptable working spaces.