Fenwick, Colchester

Fenwick Colchester | Glassolutions

In what is believed to be the biggest overhaul of a UK department store to take place outside of London, GLASSOLUTIONS helped give Fenwick Colchester a dramatic contemporary update, creating a fully glazed facade and feature entrance way with respect and sensitivity to the building's heritage.


An important part of Colchester history, the Williams & Griffin building on Colchester’s high street was established in 1968 following the merger of two independent stores originally founded by Herbert Williams and Henry Griffin in the 19th century. Often hailed as the oldest department store in Colchester, the business was sold to Fenwick in 2008 for an undisclosed sum to become the brand’s 11th branch nationwide.

In what is believed to be the biggest overhaul of a UK department store to take place outside of London, GLASSOLUTIONS worked closely with architects Aukett Swanke and the main contractors as part of the expert team rejuvenating the structure, which included expanding the site to encompass 120,000sq ft.

The two firms have successfully worked together previously on projects including the refurbishment of 123 Victoria Street and the iconic Adelphi Building, both in London.  The overall design concept having been determined further design advice on the detail concept of the south facing glass facade was provided by Eckersley O’Callaghan’ s façade engineering division, the designers responsible for Apple stores worldwide.

As the building forms part of a sensitive archaeological and conservation area, careful balancing was required to create a dramatic new presence for the store in the town centre with respect and sensitivity to its location. This included carefully restoring historically important Tudor and Victorian buildings at the midpoint of the elevation, while alterations included the formation of an atrium and a stone and glass shopfront. An additional challenge came from the fact that the business remained open for trading throughout the construction phase, requiring the provision of a ‘temporary trading space’.

Products Used

As part of the £35m revamp, GLASSOLUTIONS was awarded a £669,000 contract to design, supply and install Structural Glazing, aluminium curtain walling and doors, bronze anodised copings, roof lights, bronze fins and secondary steel work to create the store’s feature entrance way.

To create a building that is modern for the 21st century while also respecting the heritage of the surrounding, the contemporary store front is made almost entirely of glass. Because of this, a number of design factors influenced the selection of both the aluminium glazing system and the glass required for the project.

The new-build element of store’s 50-metre High Street frontage is divided into three main areas of glass separated by Portland stone columns. The outer two areas incorporate vertical bronze fins fixed to the glazed screens which both reduce the impact of the glass area and offer a visual link to the adjacent Tudor building. The central area of the façade incorporates a bronze clad portal containing the two pairs of main entrance.

Glass used included Stadip Protect Planidur COOL-LITE SKN165ii and Stadip Securit toughened HST laminate with SKN165ii surface 4 on outer panes and Stadip Protect and Stadip Securit clear toughened HST laminate on inner panes.  This assembly provides the thermal properties required for south facing glazing to avoid excessive solar gain whilst offering the security needed for glass at high level. The structural glazing also needed to be able to hold the bronze fins, a feature of the façade that were fixed through the glass joints to the internal steel transoms & mullions. At ground floor the façade is single glazed in Stadip Protect Planiclear laminate to give the clear vision with good colour rendering into the depth of the new store.


John Foster, GLASSOLUTIONS Commercial Manager for England and Wales, commented: “Following the completion of a number of successful projects with Auckett Swanke we were asked to be involved in this project from its conceptual phase and we supported it throughout the design phase and through to completion.

“The project was particularly interesting to us as it was an iconic façade on the High street of Colchester and the design brief was challenging. Conceptually, the design involved oversized glass units to appear as frameless as possible with floating bronze feature fins.

“The performance of the glazing was equally high which meant that there had to be a seamless transition of single glazing to the shop fronts and double glazing immediately above to support the buildings thermal model. I believe the end result was a great success and the façade looks very impressive.”

Download the Fenwick Colchester project profile

"I believe the end result was a great success and the façade looks very impressive.”

- John Foster, GLASSOLUTIONS Commercial Manager

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