A major renovation project at Selfridges’ landmark Birmingham store has involved the production of a huge and complex artwork to wrap the building – a world record breaker in terms of its scale.
The renovation is being carried out by Hammerson, the owner and manager of the Bullring and Grand Central.
The striking pink and black interlocking design, Infinity Pattern 1, was co-commissioned by Selfridges and the city’s Ikon art gallery. It was created by multidisciplinary artist Osman Yousefzada, who is Birmingham-born and the son of Afghani-Pakistani migrants.
It is his first piece of public art.
Yousefzada’s vision was brought to life by the specialists at Embrace Building Wraps.
Managing director Greg Forster commented: “Work started on-site in December 2020 and as each section of the main access scaffold was handed over to us we installed each offset frame, then bespoke banners printed, manufactured working 24 hour shifts for swift turnaround.”
The banners were fitted in the early hours of the morning.
“In total there are 24 frames and printed wraps in different shapes and sizes. The average dimensions of each individual banner are 388sqm. The install was completed in July 2021.”
Selfridges officially unveiled the giant artwork at the end of last month.
“At approximately 9,000sqm the wrap is 58% bigger than the currently recognised Guinness World Record holder for the largest scaffold banner which was installed in Madrid back in 2018 at a mere 5,672sqm,” Forster noted.
The Embrace team installed 5,888 linear metres of scaffold tubes for the banner frames, vertical curved shaping, and buffer rails. “To put that into perspective, if laid end to end the scaffold tubes would extend around four miles,” he added.
Embrace has created an aerial video to show the scale of the project, which also involved encapsulating three hoists and a stairway, and with apertures around the walkway and supporting steel wires from the adjacent car park.
The wrap was printed on Embrace’s EFI Vutek superwide printers, using vibration welding to create the pieces from 3.5m and 5m wide output. The firm used Keder fixings, with metal eyelets on the perimeter edges. The material used was Vistaflex Premium Frontlit PVC Banner 450 FR B1, selected for its high tear-resistance, durability and print quality.
“Embrace seamlessly joined twenty-four individual banners of which 85% had three or more adjoining perimeter edges design that had to line up perfectly with the adjacent banners,” Forster explained
“The weight of the printed wraps alone is just under five tonnes. At the extremes, the wrap is 246 metres long and 37 metres high – equivalent to a giant wall of nineteen double-decker buses stacked eight high.
“Our dynamic operations team had their work cut out for them and have really delivered on this industry-leading project, which has been a fantastic team effort between ourselves, BAM Construction and the Midland Scaffolding Services teams on site.’
At ground level the wrap was married with printed ACM Dibond panels on the site hoarding panels.
Embrace is based in Stow-on-the-Wold with five office and depot locations across the country.
Selfridges Birmingham will remain open as usual during the renovation. The artwork is complemented by an in-store art exhibition, shop and art trail co-designed and co-curated with Ikon Birmingham, and including pieces by Birmingham artists Hira Butt, Farwa Moledina and Maryam Wahid.
The exhibition shop also has an exclusive collection of merchandise including tote bags, blankets and vegan leather accessories all featuring the distinctive Infinity Pattern 1 design, alongside a selection of other products celebrating the city of Birmingham.
The 15,000 silver disks that cover Selfridges Birmingham have been removed and stored while the façade is replaced and the insulation upgraded, which will make the building much more energy efficient. Hammerson has set itself a ‘Net Positive’ target for carbon, water, resource use and social impacts by 2030.
The store will be repainted in the original Yves Klein blue, with the refurb expected to be completed ahead of next year’s Commonwealth Games, which start on 28 July 2022.
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