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In pictures: Redesign is a delight for Taank Optometrists and Mill Road



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It was a fire that tore a hole out of Mill Road and left a shattered community picking up the pieces for weeks and months afterwards.

Cutting the ribbon at Taank Optometrists in Mill Road. Picture: Ian Olsson
Cutting the ribbon at Taank Optometrists in Mill Road. Picture: Ian Olsson

Now, one of those most affected – Taank Optometrists – has undergone a major rebuild and reopened on February 8.

The expert team at local architectural specialist WindsorPatania helped complete the project, which started when the retail premises were decimated in a major fire in July 2019.

The Perne Road-based architects and property investment consultants completed the work in record time thanks to in-depth architectural plans and an innovative space-saving solution.

WindsorPatania, which works on bespoke residential, retail and mixed-use design projects across the UK, created a design which allows the client private outdoor space and airy interiors, while adhering to strict fire regulations.

The original building, part of Mill Road Conservation Area, comprised the optometrist shop on the ground, first and second floor of the building, and a separate flat to the rear of the first floor. The building has been a part of the client’s family history for 100 years, and so the team was keen to ensure this historical and emotional attachment was respected.

The WindsorPatania team stepped in before building regulation phase, spotting immediately there was no fire safety strategy in place, leading to a complete redesign of the project.

Elegant fittings at Taank Optometrists. Picture: Ian Olsson
Elegant fittings at Taank Optometrists. Picture: Ian Olsson

Each room of the flat, including bedroom, kitchen and living room – plus the two-storey optometrists – all needed clear fire escapes. At the same time, the client was very keen to keep as much open space as possible, so the WindsorPatania team needed to work to the millimetre to ensure every bit of space was used effectively.

The team, led by architectural director Giovanni Patania and architect Roberta Sanna, created a brand-new concept, which included the removal of a metal staircase outside and incorporated a hallway and ramp (fit for escape purposes).

All specifications of the project are high-end, offering modern, eco-friendly, and luxurious spaces for both tenant and retailer.

The front-facing exterior has been restored to retain as much of its original period features as possible, in keeping with the neighbouring buildings along Mill Road. At the back of the building, the team was able to be more creative, retaining the building’s original features while adding a modern element to the design.

WindsorPatania team members worked around the clock to finish the project in record time, with all approvals and designs submitted just four months after being brought onto the project. Tendering with local building firms began last summer, with building work commencing at the end of September.

William Mayes, director at Layrd Design, acted as project manager and interior designer.

“We were extremely happy with the outcome of the redesign,” he said. “We wanted the end result to showcase a luxurious but approachable and comfortable setting.

“We achieved that through bespoke details like the addition of a coffee bar with high stools, for clients to enjoy a drink while waiting for an appointment, or while their new frames are being fitted. We also included a new frame adjustment area, complete with workshop.”

Roberta Sanna, senior architectural assistant and project lead designer, said: “It was a very intense few months, challenging but extremely satisfying.”

WindsorPatania co-founder Ryan Windsor added: “After fighting to the centimetre to get the construction acceptable by building and fire regulation standards, and meeting all of the client’s needs, we are delighted to see the final result.”

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