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he John Lewis store has strong

three-dimensional façades,

complementing the white terracotta

materials used in adjacent landmark

buildings. To produce the required high-

quality architectural finishes for these,

precast concrete specialist Techrete (UK)

manufactured full-scale mock-ups, which

allowed the architect to explore the use

of different finishes and relief, as well

as terracotta, to achieve the envisioned

3D façade. The work demonstrated the

considerable variation in relief that can be

achieved with polished and acid-etched

precast panels and helped the architect

finalise the design intent.

In contrast, the new Victoria Gate Arcade

in Leeds demonstrates a different aspect

of the precaster’s skills by the use of brick-

faced concrete panels supplied by Thorp

Precast. The 6000m


brick-faced façade

pattern features six different width pleats,

each with a 250mm overall projection. The

north block has white ‘recon stone’(precast

concrete) columns with an acid-etched finish

at ground-floor level and brick-faced panels

above with white recon stone pier infills,

while the south block has black recon stone

columns with a polished finish at ground-

floor level and brick-faced panels above,

incorporating pier infills clad with terracotta

tiles. The design team considered a range of

other potential cladding solutions, including

traditional handset brickwork, various

brick-slip systems – and even, at one point,

bricklaying robots – before precast concrete

emerged as everyone’s preferred option.

Most of the panels were designed by

Thorp with an emphasis on stacking, so

that the only restraint was taken off the

Leeds shows off range of

precast architectural panels

Above and opposite

page: Victoria Gate

Arcade façade, Leeds.

Designed by architect ACME, the newVictoriaGate Arcade in Leeds and the

adjacent John Lewis Partnership store – the company’s largest outside London

– together demonstrate the range of finishes that can be achievedwith precast

concrete architectural panels.



Thorp Precast