The future of the former Debenhams store in Nottingham city centre has been subject to much speculation since its closure in May 2021, with rumours and widespread debate about what should happen next to the Grade II listed building.
It was recently reported that Longmead Capital – a London-based investment management firm – had approached the city council to discuss future plans.
With 90% of former Debenhams stores still lying empty, this poses a nationwide question, not just a Nottingham one – however any proposals must meet the city’s needs. The team at GT3 Architects have therefore taken matters into their own hands, bringing forward a vision that will give the 159-year-old Nottingham landmark a new lease of life.
Created with the local community in mind, the Hockley-based firm has reimagined the aged department store into a mixed-use space that not only serves the city’s needs but creates a moment of architectural significance by returning the building to its former glory.
Designed by Liam Gallagher, Matt Drewitt, Jake Duthie and Marta Subh Lopez, the GT3 team strongly believes that encouraging people to live, work and play in the city centre will greatly improve regeneration efforts, fire up the local economy and aid Nottingham in its efforts to become carbon neutral by 2028.
The concept carefully divides the spaces to offer something different across the various levels, including a food hall, boutique shops, a high-end hotel, office space, a media centre, residential housing, a hospitality pavilion and a public roof terrace.
The smaller building next door on Long Row would become a pub and cultural centre, The Mikado, in reference to a café building which stood adjacent some 70 years before.
A statement from the design team said:
“Increasing the number of people and businesses based in the city centre is vital to regenerating areas, creating jobs and, crucially, restoring historic landmarks for operational use. Debenhams is no exception, and we firmly believe high quality architectural intervention can be achieved, through gentle density that softens imposing buildings and by involving local commerce.”
“Nottingham has recently been named England’s most ‘underrated city’, ripe for regeneration and development. The city centre therefore needs to be the beating heart, attracting the best businesses and retaining talent from its two world renowned universities.”
“There is huge speculation as to what the premises should become, so our design provides a ‘shopping list’ of options to provoke real discussion around how we reimagine this much-admired landmark. Nottingham needs more emphatic pieces of civic architecture, and we believe the interventions proposed will have a very positive impact on the townscape.”
“We are a Nottingham-based firm, and this is an idea that really considers the people who live here, like ourselves. We have some incredible historic architecture in and around the city currently underutilised or empty. It is therefore our hope that sympathetic interventions, such as this proposal, will encourage a more varied intergenerational community to work, live and play in the city centre, helping its recovery post-recession and reshaping it for decades to come.”
GT3 Architects is an award-winning architecture practice with studios in Nottingham and Newcastle. The growing practice, which has access to the contacts and funding streams to deliver such a project, has developed a reputation for creativity and innovation, translating bold concepts into elegant technical details and successful project delivery.
For further information visit www.gt3architects.com or join the conversation over on Twitter @_GT3Architects