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Stirling-shortlisted Sainsbury’s eco-store faces demolition


Chetwoods Architects’ award-winning Sainsbury’s store in North Greenwich is facing demolition - just 14 years after it was completed

The £13 million super-green store which opened in September 1999 looks set to be bulldozed and replaced by a new IKEA.

The supermarket chain claims the building, which was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize in 2000, has become too small for its operations and plans to move to a store three-times as big.

Last year it was announced Sainsbury’s intended to vacate the store, making way for a non-food retailer to take on the lease. Plans have since emerged which will see the store flattened to make way for a huge new superstore for the Swedish furniture giant.

Paul Hinkin, who was director in charge of the project at Chetwoods before setting up his own practice Black Architecture, said: ‘It is an absolute outrage. A building with a useful and productive life is going to be demolished. It is an act of vandalism.

‘It is an absolute outrage’

‘The store transformed the debate about retail design. Before it was built supermarkets were just not considering sustainability.’

The shop was designed to have a 50-year lifespan. Hinkin added: ‘[It] could easily have had a life of more than 100 years.’

IKEA is proposing a new 33,000m² store on the Greenwich Peninsula which would be constructed from sustainable materials.

A spokesperson from IKEA commented: ‘We are planning to demolish the Sainsbury’s store, as the current building is not fit for purpose to be turned into an IKEA store. We need a larger space, and therefore inevitably we need to demolish the existing building to provide this.

‘However, we have made a commitment to reuse and recycle all of the salvageable materials from the existing Sainsbury’s store.’

A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s added: ‘We are relocating our Greenwich store to a bigger site so that we can offer our customers the full Sainsbury’s range.

‘Our new store, which has already successfully gained planning permission, will be fully fitted with modern sustainable technologies.’

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Readers' comments (4)

  • It is Sainsbury's use of anti-competitive restrictive covenants which stop the building being reused by others to sell food that prevents this building simply being re-let to another operator. This practice is widespread throughout the food retail sector and effectively removes democratic control of landuse planning by preventing the continued reuse that the local planning authority originally consented, without any involvement by the host community. These practices are in nobody's interest but the food retail sector and should immediately be banned! It is time that the RIBA, RICS and RTPI came together to lobby for a long overdue change in the law.

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  • If a building is no longer considered to be suitable to meet the needs of its current use, then surely its function should be revisited before resorting to demolition.
    We should remember the similar calls for demolition of its close neighbour The Millennium Dome, only for it to resurrected as one of the world's most famous and successful venues.
    Surely a building that was the crowned Building of the Year People’s Choice in the same year as the Dome opened deserves the chance for a similar new lease of life.


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  • There's also the question of whether IKEA stores are truly 'fit for purpose', given their standard design formula with inadequate provision for 'shortcuts' in the upstairs maze leading to unnecessary overcrowding, and failure to provide for acoustic damping in the restaurant creating too much noise for comfort.

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  • If you think that it is totally unacceptable to demolish a pioneering building that changed the nature of supermarket design you can register your objection to IKEA demolishing it after less than 15 years by visiting our online petition at:


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