Providing modern amenities, while preserving the character of many small towns, is a challenge for planners, architects and their clients. A new Morrisons store development at Swadlincote in south Derbyshire, featuring key components by architectural aluminium specialist Guttermaster, shows how this can be achieved.

This is a major store adjoining the high street of a medium sized town, explained Guttermaster managing director Mike McKee. The challenge for Morrisons and their architects was to create a store that announced its presence, but which in profile and use of materials would fit comfortably into its surroundings. A key sustainability aim was to use long life, low maintenance materials with low lifetime environmental impact.

To create a traditional external appearance to the Morrisons Swadlincote store, the architects, Race Cottam Associates, selected Guttermaster traditional style gutters and rainwater downpipes.
To create a traditional external appearance to the Swadlincote store, the architects, Race Cottam Associates, selected Guttermaster traditional style gutters and rainwater downpipes. These gutters are moulded to replicate traditional cast iron gutters. However, being made from aluminium, they weigh less and are much easier to install. Furthermore, aluminium gutters require minimal maintenance and give greater rainwater handling capacity than the traditional alternative.

The gutters and rainwater downpipes are complemented by bespoke architectural fabrications for the entrance tower. These specially fabricated flashing details to the roof perimeter give the entrance a distinctive skyline profile.

Perimeter walls on the development are sealed and protected using Guttermaster Snap-Lok wall copings. This innovative system uses a base plate as a secure anchor over which the coping is snapped into place, concealing and protecting the fastenings and providing a secure coping with fully weathered overlapping joints. The installation of rainwater goods, copings and architectural detailing to the towers was undertaken by rainwater specialist Cornforth Construction and main contractor was Sol Construction.

Externally the gutters, pipes and flashings are finished in dark grey. The internal faces are untreated and will soon acquire a tough oxide layer that will seal and protect the metal from further weathering and deterioration. With only periodic maintenance the Guttermaster products should last the life of the building.

Aluminium offers long term sustainability. In addition to its long useful life, it has the additional advantage that it remains a high value material which is easily recycled with only modest energy usage. Around 40 percent of the products made by Guttermaster are made from recycled material.

The supermarket provides 78,000 square feet of retail and support space, within an envelope that has many other traditional touches. Brickwork, with glazed brick detailing has been used externally, complemented by pitched perimeter roofs in blue Staffordshire clay tiles to provide continuity with the surrounding buildings. The site included a Grade II listed chimney, a treasured local landmark that has been restored as a key element in the scheme.

Swadlincote is a town of 30,000 people. Before the development, the high street had become run-down so many residents were travelling out of town for weekly shopping. Since the new store opened it has revitalised the town, retaining local shoppers and bringing visitors from outlying districts. This increase in pedestrian traffic has benefited other traders on the High Street, where paving and street furniture have also been updated and clutter removed to improve the shopping environment.