London’s Microsoft store opens with “maximum flexibility” in mind

The new store — conceived by design and architectural practice Gensler — has a gaming lounge, multi-purpose Community Theatre and a McLaren sports car on the ground floor.

exterior
Europe’s flagship Microsoft store

The new store — conceived by design and architectural practice Gensler — has a gaming lounge, multi-purpose Community Theatre and a McLaren sports car on the ground floor.

Microsoft’s first European flagship store has opened in London’s Oxford Circus, with a space that combines retail, entertainment and education services.

The store is Microsoft’s second largest after New York, covering more than 2000 square meters over three floors.

Lara Marrero, principal and retail practice leader at Gensler, says that the store is designed to have a place for “all different types of people — gamers, educators, parents, kinds, and the business to business community”.

“Parents can be gamers, kids could be interested in different products,’ Marrero says. “Journeys aren’t meant to be isolated.”

senna
The McLaren Senna, equipped with simulation technology

On the ground floor, a video wall wraps around interactive product areas and an engine-less McLaren Senna, which uses simulation technology to allow users to experience driving.

A gaming lounge, Community Theatre and technical support area can be found on the first floor.

The second floor has meeting rooms as well as an events-hosting area.

Part of “finding ways to bring everyone together” involved creating a flexible space, Marrero says.

“Technology is constantly upgrading and changing, so we have to make retail environments flexible to allow for that change,” she adds.

The project required a restructuring of the Grade II-listed building. Columns on the ground and first floor were removed and replaced with transfer beams for support.

It is now as “column free as possible” so that the “space can be used in a more agile way”, according to Marrero.

“On the ground floor, you now have a McLaren Senna, which you couldn’t have put there before.”

On the first and second floor, this flexibility is continued with a multi-purpose Community Theatre for education or events.

theatre
The Community Theatre

This Community Theatre is equipped with screens and furniture that can be moved out depending on the need — “everything has been designed with maximum flexibility,” Marrero says.

It can be used to teach skills for digital platforms, such as coding.

The entertainment lounge upstairs — which focuses on Microsoft’s videogame system, Xbox — has been designed as the “ultimate gaming experience”.

Marrero says the area feels separate from the rest of the store because of the lighting.

“In contrast with the rest of the brightly-lit store, this area is very dark, so you can see the screens better,” Marrero says.

There is also an “inclusive environment” where people who are differently abled can try different controllers and styles of seating.

gaming
The gaming lounge

Located at the “nexus of two major shopping streets”, the 18th century building combines “heritage with cutting edge technology”, according to Marrero.

“We were working with a space that was designed at a time when you couldn’t conceive technology,” he adds.

While they were designing the new layout, Gensler uncovered original features like ceiling details and windows.

The exposed windows and ceilings were restored and the new design details echo the “rich juxtaposition of history”.

The spiral staircase, for example, is made of glass and timber which is a “link between the historic building and the modern aesthetic,” according to Gensler.

The stairs have LED lighting which can change colour for themed events.

The store also features a mixed reality experience area where visitors can see the evolution of Oxford Circus and an experience centre which can “support, train and grow businesses”, according to Microsoft.

The store is located at 253-259 Regent Street and is open now.

Latest articles