The Oracle Reading – Upper Mall

Located on the shores of the River Kennet, in Reading, Berkshire, the Oracle Shopping Centre is a retail and leisure centre which is home to over 80 retailers, and which plays a vital role in the commercial life of the town. When the owners of the centre, Hammerson Plc, decided to embark on a major refurbishment programme, they turned to Hatmet to deliver the work which they felt was needed.

The fact that Hammerson chose Hatmet to deliver a large scale multi-million pound project involving several different phases of delivery, is testament to not only our reputation within the industry but also the successful work we have carried out for Hammerson in the past. The fact that we always engage in a rigorous pre-construction process, allied to our access to a wide range of supply line suppliers, meant that we were able to meet the demands of the project, and to do so in a manner which wouldn’t impact upon the retail operation of the centre.

The first phase of the refurbishment cost £1.1m and involved work on 20 units on the upper level of the centre. Where shops required an increase in shop frontage, raised bulkheads were fitted using curved Glass Reinforced Gypsum (GRG) coving. The use of curved coving allowed the refurbishment to give the shop fronts in question a softer and more organic feel and Barrisol ceiling panels added to the contemporary revamp.

New lighting was fitted throughout, with angled linear recessed lighting strips utilised to create a pleasing ‘line of light’ effect along the vertical face of bulkheads and around escalator openings. Units 9 to 11 of the project, an upmarket Victoria Secrets shop, were stripped out and a new mezzanine floor and structural steels were fitted.

New pilasters – rectangular columns – clad in limestone were put in place and, outside the entrance to House of Fraser, Barrisol ceiling panels were paired with LED strip lights to create a transformative and modern environment.

Despite the scale of this phase of the project, the fact that all work was undertaken outside normal trading hours meant that there was no impact upon the normal working of the shopping centre.