The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Photo © Richard Glover, courtesy Chetwood Associates
Photo © Richard Glover, courtesy Chetwood Associates
Photo © Richard Glover, courtesy Chetwood Associates

100 Buildings 100 Years

1999: Sainsbury’s Eco-store

Type: Commercial/offices
Architect: Chetwood Associates
Location: 55 Bugsby's Way, Greenwich, London, SE10

Sainsbury’s pioneering eco-designed supermarket fits neatly into the two dominant meta-narratives of the late 20th century: shopping as destination experience, and the move to sustainable building. Designed by Chetwood Associates after much research, the Eco-store was opened by that other 1990s icon, TV chef Jamie Oliver. It was the first store to be awarded the BREEAM excellent rating: by installing CHP, and using daylight rather than artificial lighting, it consumed 50% less energy than a conventional supermarket.

Its distinctive zoomorphic shape highlights landscaping by the Woodland Trust and minimises light pollution. Pedestrian, cycling and public transport access are integrated and even electric charging points provided. It won the 2000 RIBA Sustainability Award, was short-listed for the Stirling Prize and customers loved it. Despite being called at the time ‘the high-point of supermarket design in the 20th century’ the Eco-store is now threatened with demolition. Will this example of sustainable development survive?

by Frank Krikhaar

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