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Selfridges ready to reveal itself

Future Systems' long-anticipated Selfridges in Birmingham is on the verge of opening its doors to the shopping public.

When they arrive, visitors will also be able to see for the first time the four interior floors each designed by a different practice. Future Systems is responsible for the ground floor while Eldridge Smerin, Stanton Williams and a collaboration between Cibic and Partners and Lees Associates have each taken on one of the others.

The building's exterior - designed to be iconic and a 'cultural attraction for Birmingham'- was, according to Future Systems, inspired by a Paco Rabanne chain-mail dress, and is clad with 15,000 spun aluminium disks.

It also aims to make a dramatic impact on the city's skyline, contrasting with the 1960s Rotunda and the Gothic St Martin's Church.

The ground floor - by the London-based practice - includes the Food Hall, a contemporary furniture store, a 'home and essentials area'and children's area based around three 'lily pads'.

The first floor was designed by Eldridge Smerin. This 'spirit, books and technology area' is a 'modern and hard-edged landscape' with three separate areas.

The second floor, by Stanton Williams, will focus on beauty, menswear and jewellery, and is dominated by 'one dramatic design gesture', a long high wall sweeping throughout the building and splitting the floor's main area in to two atria.

And the top floor was taken on by Italian-based Cibic and Partners, together with UK practice Lees Associates, which have designed the level with the 'female shopper in mind' for the womenswear and accessories departments using lilac and silver-grey colouring throughout.

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