Selfridges is undergoing a major refurbishment and renovation programme which is the biggest ever financial investment for a single project by a department store, anywhere in the world. Scudder Demolition’s works will bring significant logistical benefits to store operations, in addition to an enhanced customer experience.

Founded in 1909 by Henry Selfridge, an American retail magnate, Selfridges has been a globally iconic retail destination for more than 100 years. Situated on the corner of Oxford Street and Duke Street in West London, the site has vastly expanded over it’s decades of operation, absorbing multiple structures surrounding it to the west and north to expand its retail experience, add a hotel and expansive storage and delivery facilities.

In 2012, Selfridges developed a feasibility report to explore redevelopment opportunities to modernise the experience of their customers. The aim was to create an unobstructed retail space across the entire site, levelling floorplates, improving access and egress to the loading bays, and expanding the available retail space.

Scudder Demolition, a Carey Group company, played an integral role in this programme of works, acting as the specialist demolition contractor, and enabling the extensive refurbishment and renovation project to be undertaken. Our works were undertaken in one of the most prestigious retail environments in the world, without causing any disruption to store operations, and were greatly complicated by the lack of accurate data available on the historic alterations and construction methodology of the building.

Phase One works began with the installation of temporary works to maintain the lateral stability of the remaining building, the formation of structural openings, remodelling of floors and strengthening works to Nations House.

The main feature within the existing live and functioning store was the demolition of existing slabs to create an ‘aircraft hangar’ sized space to facilitate the construction of a new steel HGV exit Ramp onto Duke Street beneath the existing first floor slab, all access shared with the store about the same size as a hospital corridor and without disrupting the stores daily trading activities. Demolishing the brick and steel structures around the old live air handling plant (the size of a two-storey terrace house) and high voltage cables which had to be kept live and were integral to the running of the store was particularly challenging and was achieved without disruption to the customers shopping experience.

Outside the store in Edwards Mews we designed and installed earthworks supports and excavated to a depth of 16 metres, breaking through existing walls and forming a new tunnel across Edwards Mews from Nations House to the SWOD building. These works required us to develop detailed modelling and undertake extensive structural investigations to ensure that our works could be delivered safely without affecting the structural integrity of the building above and around our works.

This phase of works included the design and installation of extensive temporary works and earthworks supports across the Edwards Mews side of the building. During this phase, we also undertook a soft strip and structural reconfiguration of the 3rd floor of the SWOD building, named after the streets that originally enclosed it (namely Somerset, Wigmore, Orchard and Duke). In addition to these works, we also upgraded the public realm with high-end finishes including York Stone and Granite Paving, along the entire length of Edwards Mews.

Phase Two was an extensive package of works that was centred around the removal of ‘The Bump’– a structural aberration which had been formed decades earlier and which created an uneven and disjointed floor profile within the store. Within this phase, we designed and installed temporary works to ensure that, the lateral stability of the retained structure was maintained, demolished the upper levels of the Link building (the building connecting the Classic and SWOD buildings making up the Selfridges store), created a temporary pedestrian link allowing customers to traverse from the classic building to the SWOD building at Lower ground level whilst at the same time demolishing the Link Building above, top down. Following the demolition works, we then constructed a new five-storey link building from the lower ground level and prestige entrance to the store from Duke Street.

These works created a level profile between the classic and SWOD buildings at ground floor level as well as creating a large amount of new retail space at levels 1, 2 and 3. We created additional retail space at Lower Ground level by demolishing the old HGV egress ramp and removing large sections of the two existing retaining walls.

One of the most complex elements of our work arose during our replacement of two large masonry piers (number 59 and 60) with steel columns, as well as extending seven further structural steel columns to level out the ground floor and link the Classic and SWOD buildings.

As these piers provided structural support for multiple levels of active retail space on the floors above, we hydraulically jacked the building to take the 500KN load from these floors into a temporary steel frame designed by our in-house temporary works department. This enabled us to demolish the masonry piers, install new structural steel columns and remove the jacks, all without requiring our client to halt retail operations within the store. We achieved this amazing feat of engineering with a maximum displacement of any pier or column of less than 2mm throughout the whole process.

We began by excavating the existing steel beam lattice that was tied into the building’s concrete foundations. Once uncovered, we cast a new slab above the existing lattice to support the jacking frame, then cut holes into the ground and first floor slabs, positioning the jacking frame columns and tying these into the existing piers.

We then installed a movement frame around the existing pier and installed new stubs above the movement frame to support the upper jacking frame, before installing this on the stubs, also installing lifting beams with a 100mm gap above each beam that was to be jacked. We then packed steel wedges above all the lifting beams and welded two PFCs onto the existing steel column above the level of the first floor.

Next, we demolished the masonry pier from ground to first floor once the load was supported on the frame through lifting and positioned the new steel columns into the correct place, fixing these to the existing pier. Finally, we securely restrained the base of the column, connected all structural elements and dismantled the brace jacking and lower movement frames.

Once this process was completed and the full load of the structure above was being supported by the steel frame, we were able to undertake construction of the new floor plates, creating these in uninterrupted levels across the structure.

Throughout these works, it was crucial for us to prevent disruption to store operations which might cause our client hundreds of thousands of pounds in lost revenue. To ensure this, we clearly demonstrated our methodology in advance of our works, but once the programme commenced, we would encounter a whole raft of unexpected issues that arose from a lack of accurate information being available from the client.

Our team identified multiple unmapped elements within the structure, having to quickly and accurately identify their structural purpose before continuing works to ensure that we did not affect the integrity of the building. These unmapped elements created a risk of derailing the programme as any findings had to be checked by an engineer to determine how their removal or alteration would affect the building before work could continue. These unforeseen events culminated in us receiving more than 500 variations and despite this, completing our contract four weeks early.

The Scudder Demolition team has worked in an extremely professional manner and demonstrated a real 'can-do' attitude throughout the project.

Martin Ewing, Senior Project Manager, Sir Robert McAlpine
Client
Selfridges
Location
England
Principal Contractor
Sir Robert McAlpine
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