M&S Oxford Street: potential designs for the controversial new store have been revealed

SAVE Britain’s Heritage has launched a competition to redesign M&S’s Marble Arch flagship

India Lawrence
Written by
India Lawrence
Contributing writer
Design for M&S Flagship
Image: Jestico + Whiles

The saga of the demolition of the M&S flagship store on Oxford Street has been going on for over 1,000 days. 

The retailer first submitted an application to demolish the art deco Orchard House store near Marble Arch almost three years ago. After complaints by architecture enthusiasts and Michael Gove blocking the plans, a High Court case in March 2024 saw M&S successfully challenge Gove’s ruling. A final decision on whether the company has planning permission to demolish the site is due in the near future. 

Now, some potential designs have been revealed for the future flagship store, but not by Marks & Sparks. 

In a competition independent from Marks & Spencer, judges from Architects’ Journal and SAVE Britain’s Heritage have selected six teams to work up their ideas for the M&S Oxford Street building and inspire the company to reuse it (rather than knock it down). 

The six teams – Connolly Wellingham, Saqqra, Jestico + Whiles, Marks Barfield, Avanti Architects and Add Apt – will each receive a £5,000 grant and participate in a day-long workshop to develop their concepts further through sketching, model-making, and discussion, which will take place this week. 

Predictably, all the designs involve retrofitting the original 1929 building, and there’s no mention of the demolition. The competition for the designs is speculative and has nothing to do with the retailer. M&S hasn’t offered any comment on how and when the store will be knocked down. 

It’s worth noting that during a hearing against Secretary of State Michael Gove – who was found to have unlawfully blocked the M&S demolition – property inspector David Nicholson said being able to carry out ‘meaningful refurbishment’ was ‘unlikely’, meaning demolition was the only option.

Retrofitting the building was supposedly found to be too costly and difficult, meaning M&S at Orchard House would either have to close or build an entirely new building. 

M&S operations director Sacha Berendji said in a statement the retailer’s planned redevelopment ‘would deliver one of London’s greenest buildings, create thousands of new jobs and rejuvenate the capital’s premier shopping district’.

However, the Architects Journal and SAVE Britain’s Heritage are hoping to change M&S’s mind with this architecture competition. You can read about the designs in more depth online here

Here are some images of the designs. 

Design for the M&S flagship
Image: Add Apt Architects
Design for the M&S flagship
Image: Saqqra
Design for the M&S flagship
Image: Connolly Wellingham
Design for the M&S flagship
Image: Avanti Architects
Design for the M&S flagship
Image: Marks Barfield Architects

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