Cheshire Oaks, UK

M&S Flagship Store

Our flagship sustainable store for M&S, in Cheshire Oaks, is their largest outside of London at 195,000sqft over two floors. It has the highest environmental accreditation of any M&S store, having received a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating, the RIBA Sustainability Award and BCSC Gold Award for Sustainability at completion

Project Details

  • Location UK
  • Type New build
  • Area 18,115m² 195,000ft²
  • Sector Retail
  • Client Marks and Spencer
  • Services Architecture

Our design aspiration for the store was to set a new benchmark for sustainable retail and achieve carbon neutrality in the construction life cycle and end use of the store through an emphasis on the reduction of CO2 emissions. This was achieved through the adoption of sustainable design techniques and the use of renewable materials, both of which reduce the environmental impact of the building.

The elegant structural timber frame, visible from inside the store and which lends the building its external form, incorporates an attractive ‘wave’ style roof created using timber FSC Glulam beams from renewable timber sources, and north facing skylights assist in bringing north light into the building to prevent any direct sunlight, but flood the store with natural light throughout the day.

At completion, the building was recognised with the RIBA Regional and National Award and the RIBA Sustainability Award (North West Region), British Council for Shopping Centre’s Gold Award for Sustainability and the Building ‘Test of Time’ Award two years later. It was also CIBSE ‘Carbon Champion of the Year’ and the practice was winner of the Marks & Spencer ‘Plan A Award’ for Most Sustainable Architect.

The store is flooded with natural daylight
First floor cafe
Exterior with overhanging wave-form roof and brise soleil

“Marks & Spencer are delighted with the new Cheshire Oaks store . . . Aukett Swanke’s detailed knowledge of environmental design and sustainable construction has resulted in a fantastic end product that we can all be very proud of ”

Paul Glinn Head of Architecture Design Delivery - Marks & Spencer

Our approach set out a series of objectives that ensured the final structural solution met all of M&S’s defined targets and sustainability quality.  One of the main areas where the structure influenced the building’s ability to meet these targets was the choice of materials used in construction. There were various criteria driving this choice:

  • Where possible materials were sourced locally, reducing haul miles and improving the overall carbon footprint
  • Efficient detailing to reduce waste
  • Prudent use of recycled components
  • Embodied energy assessment
  • Low VOC
  • Increased air tightness

In order to minimise the demand on energy consumption, initial studies on the local climate helped develop the design strategy to make use of natural resources, such as daylight and natural ventilation, and innovative sustainable design techniques.

To create a highly thermally insulated building, external walls are constructed from Hempcrete, a highly sustainable material comprising a mix of hemp and lime that absorbs carbon throughout the building’s life, and sourced from within 150 miles of the site.

One innovative feature, designed to assist in keeping a stable temperature throughout, was to partly sink the building into the ground with earth mounding around the perimeter to provide greater insulation.  The building is ventilated with fresh air tempered through earth tubes before entering the building, thereby reducing the energy demand for cooling or heating the air.

A Building Performance Evaluation studies was carried out by Faithful & Gould after the project's completion which concluded:

“The holistic approach taken to designing the store’s sustainable features has resulted in it being 42% more energy efficient, with 40% lower carbon emission, per square foot than a benchmark M&S store. The use of highly innovative building materials such as hempcrete and its exceptional air tightness has resulted in the store using 60% less heating fuel than predicted…”

Aerial view during construction
Green wall to car parking
M&S sustainability initiatives
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