Title: C&A upgraded

Pages: 42-43


Author: Josť Manser

Text: C&A upgraded

C & A recently added an extension to their Birmingham store. This new interior and shopfront, about 60 OOOsq ft of trading space, was designed by Maurice Broughton Associates. Josť Manser reports; photographs by Philip Sayer


C & A interiors incorporate standard fittings used throughout Parallel shops in Europe, so Maurice Broughton Associates had to work within curbs for the new Birmingham extension. Main object was to upgrade the experience of shopping for C & A's new ventures in the middle range markets: this included strong treatment for the women's Sixth Sense shop, the coffee shop and the Gear Cellar

The C & A chain is privately owned Filth the parent company in Holland and branches in Belgium and Germany as Nell as Britain he recent years their traditional emphasis on cheap clothing seems to halve been pushed slightly aside to make room for such up-market lines as Westbury for men and Sixth Sense for women, and the words C & A are no longer instantly synonymous with rock bottom prices.

Conscious perhaps that the bleak welcome in their older stores does not tall with the pricier image of their clothes, the company's commission was for a more modern approach in this, their second largest branch. The designers' scope was limited by C E, A's international background which meant that certain things -storage bins, cash registers, window bas and so on - were standard and immutable. But, having accepted and largely overcome this curb on their creativity, they have produced interiors which should draw in people who previously found C & A an uncomfortable place to shop.

A wide canopy, faced in polished aluminium with a curved black glass-fibre nosing, gracefully links old and new facades, and windows with minimal glazing bars curve cleanly round structural columns at the mom entrances. Illuminated C & A signs float against a dark background in the modular window hays Inside walls are panelled with Interior System Ltd's 4ft modular Look System, chosen for cost as well as appearance, and this has been integrated with Lytespal1 ceiling tracks Since all storage fittings are standard, colour was used as an integrating factor in the store's design. All sign panels (which toggle into the ceiling and are easily moved) are of dark brown plastics, while storage bins, racks and so on have been given a similar brown/beige treatment. Brown Granulite is used on curving entrance walls, and a special terrazzo mix of brown and beige on many floors.

Most goods are sold from hanging rails, and demmountable glass-fibre fascia panels in various colours are mounted above these around much of the perimeter of the building. On the ground floor a small milliner department has yellow pvc panels, Merchant Adventurers light fittings mounted in pairs, and mirrorglass painted yellow to make pairs of circular mirrors.

In the basement, two new lines for C & A, the Gear Cellar (anall essential boutique to attract young girls) and a coffee shop have been given uncharacteristically strong treatment. An amoeba-shaped fitting room in the middle of the Gear Cellar is screened by black pvc lined panels accented by polished alumininium and a huge red glass-fibre fascia. The Hugh Mackay carpet was designed to echo the amoeba shape and there are red domes hanging over clothes rails and red baton light fittings. The coffee shop has a similar carpet
In a different colorway, red banquette seating and glass-fibre stools with red fabric seats.

Thoughtful detailing, like the lowered ceiling around escalator arenas nosed in fibrous plaster and echoing the terrazzo floor strap heath acid like the neat brown laminated plastics lift interiors, make this store a pleasant place to shop. Architects for the extension were North & Partners.



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