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'I'm looking for an architect,' says Tesco chief

Tesco’s chief architect Martin Young has invited AJ100 practices to propose designs for a contentious supermarket in Hadleigh, Suffolk

Speaking at the AJ100 Breakfast Club at Claridges, London, Tesco’s chief architect Martin Young threw down the gauntlet, inviting architects in the room to approach him with concepts for a store in Hadleigh, Suffolk, that has been refused planning permission.

Addressing representatives of the UK’s 100 largest architectural practices, he said: ‘We have a scheme in Hadleigh, a market town near Ipswich that has just been refused planning consent on design grounds.

‘I’m looking for an architect to work with me on a design for Hadleigh. I’m looking for a contextual design, so please form an orderly queue afterwards.’

Tesco was refused planning for this particular scheme in July, but has been campaigning for a store in the town since 1987. An attempt to build a Tesco supermarket on a different site was refused in 2008.

Young added: ‘Tesco have worked with 10 per cent of the AJ100 and how many clients can say that? I want to work with lots of different architects.

‘In total this year Tesco is working with 40 architects in the UK and this is testament to the fact we want to be diverse.’ The company appointed Mangera Yvars Architects to design a £40 million store in Nottingham following a design competition earlier this year however the scheme was withdrawn from planning in June.

Insisting e-mail was the least best way to contact him, he said: ‘Think about the 60 second pitch. You have to say why you are different and explain very succinctly and quickly what your hook is. You have to think about what you are going to add to the process.’

The AJ100 Breakfast Club is an event for executive staff from practices ranked in the AJ100, a survey of the largest architectural practices in the UK ranked by number of architects employed. The next AJ100 event will be on 28 October in Manchester.


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Readers' comments (2)

  • Cynical attempt to get a troublesome scheme through planning as opposed to a real commitment to decent architecture.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • My impression of Martin Young from the media and meetings is that he does want to push "much better design" in supermarkets... The problem with Tesco on his shoulders is that Tesco do not want to invest in anything but Tesco.

    The reality is that huge single storey Tesco stores can't work in urban areas under the direction of Tesco - or at least with the attitude of just wanting to build a superstore.

    Developer led schemes generally (with varying 'success') at least understand basic needs for retail, residential, offices and the public realm.

    The Mangera Yvars scheme in Nottingham had nothing but a token gesture of other "things" that make places within cities.

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