WAYS to give empty retail spaces a new lease of life are explored in an exhibition of work by University of Chester interior design students this month.

The Beyond Retail exhibition opened at CASC (Contemporary Art Space Chester) at the Castlefield Gallery New Art Spaces, Unit 14, Grosvenor Shopping Centre, Chester, on Monday, April 8, and runs from 10am to 4pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays until April 26.

The work displayed in the free exhibition, by second year students from the University’s BA (Hons) Interior Design programme, presents a range of directions for the use of empty units in Chester city centre.

The designs look at future options, as the growth of online retailers and changing consumer behaviour puts increased stress on the high street, and empty units become a more common sight in the traditional shopping streets of towns and cities.

Chester and District Standard:

Simon Winter, senior lecturer in the School of Arts and Media at the University of Chester, said: “The exhibition places the focus on the range of tactics being employed to make use of unused retail units, encourage footfall and provide more sustainable offerings.

“Empty units are being converted to spaces to live, support, engage, nourish, educate or play. We are also seeing established and independent retailers pushing beyond the confines of traditional retail by providing unique experiences and services to attract people to their physical stores.

“Our students’ work highlights such alternative uses and aims to help create more ideas and discussion in relation to the repurposing of empty retail space.

"The project has provided opportunities for students to research existing urban conditions, societal, cultural and political shifts, developments in different design strategies, as well as developing their own briefs as a response to their own analytical work.

“We look forward to welcoming people to the exhibition at CASC, to see and find out more this month.”