Toulouse, France

Steve Harrison, Partner at Hoare Lea

Project Lead:
Steve Harrison

French heritage meets modern retail.

This was a five-year project to create a brand new flagship Primark store in Toulouse. It involved refurbishing a classic ‘Grand Magasin’ (department store) to create four floors of retail space. This unique building had to comply with French heritage requirements.

Unique design.

As well as the sensitivities surrounding the heritage of the building, the project had a number of other challenges. As the largest of Primark’s French stores, it came with a unique design concept that deviated from the usual brand standards. There were limited ceiling heights, a huge atrium, and two escalator cores, which made for a complicated fire strategy. The design of the smoke extract system had to account for restricted ceiling voids and the building’s numerous architectural features. Our solution incorporated flexible smoke curtains, as well as a separate room, that act as a firefighter control centre and which will be manned at all times during trading.

Flexible solutions.

We were working in parallel with the retail designers and the visual requirements were constantly changing to keep ‘on trend’. In response, we designed multiple flexible solutions and tried them out in test areas of the store before rolling out across the whole building. Our cooling system needed to integrate with the ‘weak’ 100-year-old structure and we managed to find a way to split the chillers to minimise impact on the historic Toulouse skyline. The noise levels were also a factor with residential windows only 15 metres away. Through the use of dynamic thermal modelling we proved that applying solar treatment to the windows would reduce the solar load enough that we could reduce the plant size (and associated noise).

Key Figures
1905 Originally designed by George Debrie
82,000 Trading area approx. size in square feet