The ‘Department of Digital Futures’ brings complex technology and information science to town centres, reactivating department stores to serve multiple facets of the local community.
Offering high street access to powerful digital intelligence and data, usually exclusive to innovation hotspots, levels the playing field for opportunity between regions.
Tech-enabled information supports a series of uses tailored to complex local needs, such as GPS to efficiently harvest crops,
AI to survey the most sustainable places to fish and intelligence to power the next generation of electric vehicles. As a hub for digital skills, it will also bring schools, businesses and start-ups together to learn, create and collaborate.
Co-working on the upper floors offers the space and digital capabilities for specialist facilities such as recording studios, VR booths, 3D printing and rapid prototyping to support local innovation.
Businesses and start-ups can come together to learn, create and collaborate
Workshop areas and a tech helpdesk provide forums for problem solving and upskilling to ensure that regional economies do not lag behind the digital revolution.
Basement levels support sustainable last-mile logistics by providing delivery lockers and tech-enabled changing facilities with smart mirrors and 360-degree cameras, so people can try items in a ‘better than home’ environment and process returns on site.
Footfall generated by the technology and logistics hubs is supported by an interactive ground floor created as a highly flexible framework. The adaptive space allows for performance, display and events and is responsive to location, time of day and season.
A curated events programme appeals to a broad local audience by showcasing sports and gaming via large screens, art exhibitions, music and theatre performances, as well as product launches and experiential retail.
The food and drink offer is concentrated at street and roof level where people are encouraged to dwell and socialise. Biodiverse rooftop gardens, outdoor play areas or sporting facilities can be tailored to local demographics.
The great design challenge: the department store reborn
- Currently reading
The great design challenge: Fathom Architects