Runners, apparently, flock to Teddington, tempted by its proximity to Bushy Park, Richmond Park, and the Thames path, and by Sweatshop, purveyor of specialist running equipment since 1971. So obsessive are the fitness fanatics that Sweatshop's reopening, after a refurbishment by Richard Hywel Evans Architecture & Design, attracted queues. Hywel Evans would like to attribute this enthusiasm to the seductive design, but concedes that it could have something to do with the facilities on offer: health-screening, blood lactate-testing, and Britain's first 1m-long footscan pad - a device which determines which trainers customers should buy, by assessing the pressures they put on their feet.
But the fit-out is something of a crowd-puller, designed to grab the attention of the exerciseobsessed: Michael Johnson's Olympic spikes are displayed in the window, and the door handles are cast in the shape of a well-worn pair of trainers.
Inside the shop, the cushioned Altro Sports floor is laid out as a red athletics track, surrounding an area of strip timber ash floor, reminiscent of a dance studio or gym. Two half-height red display units are loosely based on positions assumed by runners as they leave the starting blocks. 'We know nobody is going to pick up on the significance of the shapes, ' says Hywel Evans, 'but it A short jog from Richmond and Bushy Parks looks good in the drawings.' The units were conceived as lightweight structures, and look like inflatables, but it proved cheaper to construct them from solid MDF.
A stainless-steel and carbon-fibre mobile launch manufactured by Aura - 'they used to rig my boats' - holds the footscan monitor, and doubles as a showcase for kit worn by champion runner Halle Gabrelassiea. Shoes for sale are exhibited 'end-on' on polished stainless-steel hangers attached to a hand-painted toughened-glass display wall, and changing and shower facilities serve those runners who want to test-drive the shoes.
The scientifically-inclined can test the performance of fabrics used for sports clothes in a mini sports laboratory, at the back of the shop, or test their own performance in the Nike Lab, a space at the back of the shop where the health-screening takes place.
Sponsored by Nike, the lab is an example of the creative financing which has been used for the £260,000 refit: in addition to the £110,000 contributed by Nike, Adidas has provided £10,000, and various other companies have given sponsorship of £3000, leaving the client with a bill for £125,000. 'It's slightly more than they bargained for, ' says Hywel Evans, 'but the increased investment should pay for itself within a couple of years' - Sweatshop predicts an increase in sales of at least 25 per cent.
ARCHITECT Richard Hywel Evans Architecture & Design: Richard Hywel Evans, Pietro Granaiola
CLIENT Hugh Brasher of Sweatshop
CONTRACTORS AND SUPPLIERS main shopfitting contractor Cheshire Contracts Shopfitting, red gondola displays Cheshire Contracts Shopfitting, painted glass shoe wall Bernard Becker Studios, stainless steel launch Aura, Nike Focus Area Display Nike Europe, sports track floors Altro Floors, timber strip floors Boen Parkett, lighting and fibre optics Wever & Ducre; Taggetti; Delta Light; Marlin, all supplied by Malisa Lighting, stainless wall grids/perspex '0116', shopfront signage Action Signs