McArthur Glen Designer Outlet Village
Architect/Designer: Richard Rogers Partnership
A kilometre long continuous tensile membrane roof of 35,000m2 covering retail units. The PVC Polyester fabric roof, arranged around a horseshoe plan, provides the unifying element in this Richard Rogers Partnership design. Voted RIBA Journal building of the month, April 2000, the membrane roof is an iconic structure.
The dramatic impact of the designer outlet village at Ashford is undeniable. Its kilometre long tented fabric roof is the largest continuous tensile membrane structure in the world, and makes the retail village an unusual take on out of town shopping. The architect, Richard Rogers, aimed to move away from the conventional shopping experience by creating a different sort of environment.
Built on a reclaimed brown-field site, the smooth peaks and crisp white fabric are a welcome addition to the rural landscape and form a continuation of the surroundings. Yet it brings much more than merely an extension of natural shapes and colours. The striking roof canopy is an iconic element within the building design, providing vertical drama and excitement.
In comparison to other roofing systems, the use of a PVC coated polyester tensile membrane ensured that a large expanse could be covered for minimum cost and allowed the system to be installed quickly.
The ridge and valley structure forms the uniting part of this ambitious scheme and allow the outlet centre to stake its place dramatically in its rural setting. The undulating shapes and vertical masts juxtapose with the elongated form of the retail units below.