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Vangarde Shopping Centre

Owner:  Associated British Foods plc.
Developer:   Oakgate (Monks Cross) Ltd
Master plan etc.:  DLA Architecture
John Lewis Unit:  Brooker Flynn Architects
M&S Unit:   Benoy
Next Unit:   Stanton Williams

A very large and complex development that has no doubt raised difficult questions about the role of out–of-town shopping centres.   But we are asked to judge the quality of what has been built rather than the decision-making behind it.

The design team, comprising four different architectural practices, is to be congratulated for making such a large and complex group of buildings so elegant and simple to grasp.

The four major buildings are quite different from each other but are handled in such a way that they work together rather than shouting each other out – as is frequently the case in developments of this sort.  The M&S incorporates a delightful green wall; Next is a fine example of an all glass façade; John Lewis uses a complex sculptural form.

When Hentie Louw and I were students, we all read a book called ‘Learning from Las Vegas’ – that made us look with fresh eyes and open minds at the problem of large bill-board frontages to otherwise ordinary commercial buildings.  The buildings of the Vangarde centre are a remarkable example of what careful, intelligent design can achieve.

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