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England adds a High Tech supermarket to its National Heritage List

This Sainsbury is a celebration of engineering and construction

Gray building with exposed steel beams Historic England

Study a list of England’s most significant architectural sites, and you’ll see plenty of old houses and parliament buildings. What you won’t see much of are supermarkets.

That’s about to change, though. The National Heritage List, England’s registry of historically significant places, is adding its first supermarket to its roster—a sprawling Sainsbury store in Camden’s Grand Union Complex.

Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners designed the now Grade II-listed market in the mid-1980s, turning what’s typically function-first architecture into a statement building. Grimshaw designed the Sainsbury in the High Tech style, which embraces engineering as an aesthetic. “The Camden Road Sainsbury’s is an outstanding example of High Tech architecture in a busy urban setting,” said Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s chief executive. “It is an unapologetically futuristic building, which also sits comfortably alongside its historic neighbors.”

Building with steel frame Historic England
Historic England

Indeed, the building wears its construction proudly with an aluminum and glass-clad facade that’s supported by a utilitarian exposed steel frame. Inside, curved trusses create a column-free floor where the market could maximize its retail space. Grimshaw’s building, in all its machine-like glory, is a reminder that efficiency and style can sometimes go hand-in-hand.