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China. The design, says Stuart Rough, chairman of global architecture, urbanism and design practice, “takes inspiration form the city’s canals, bridges and gardens, with Suzhou known as the Venice of the East”. Civic space is now also taken into

Clean lines and good visibility at Westfield Stratford

features such as play areas. “The food court has also evolved from the traditional fast-food options towards café culture and fine dining.” For Westfield’s Whitmore, increasing the number of escalators helps “flow people around the centres,” while “creating clean lines” is essential. “You will notice from our shopping centres such as Westfield Bondi Junction, and Sydney, in Australia, and Westfield London and Stratford, that we have lost the big plaster between shops. One piece of retail flows into another piece of retail. “We have created clean lines and taken


Unlike residential or office refurbishment, the alteration of a shopping centre is influenced by many factors – market trends, environment, and neighbourhood development – rather than just because it is worn out, says Benoy director Peter McCaffery. Adjustment of the retail benchmark

is another common reason for refurbishment. “In this case the change should, in the long run, enhance the retail income,” says McCaffery. “This kind of refurbishment is often affected by the nature of neighbourhood evolution, for example the opening of a new mall in the local vicinity might mean that the old mall needs to evolve in order to keep its competitive edge. “The redevelopment needed obviously

varies on each project; it can be as simple as adding an additional express escalator, or as radical as a change to the whole retail benchmark, but there can be challenges with all updates.” Aedas’s Christine Lam agrees: “Every

refurbishment has a specific blend of challenges. Broadly, they fall into two categories: refurbishment of old or non-

36 Summer 2013

performing centres, and the updating of already successful centres. With the latter, the challenge is usually related to implementing changes without inconveniencing tenants or visitors.” The biggest challenges, says Lam,

come with alterations to the fabric of a building – adjustments in entrances, circulation, void sizes, escalators, all with the aim of improving visitor flows and visibility of shop fronts – and improvements to vertical connectivity with new atrium spaces. Technical issues are a major issue during a trade-mix adjustment, says McCaffery. “One typical challenge is the co-ordination of the M&E and servicing to F&B space when redeveloping a unit that had previously been purely retail.”

FUTURE PROOFING Technology and people’s desires are developing and changing so quickly that shopping centres can need refurbishment after as little as six years. In the 1980s and ’90s, a centre might not be refreshed for 15 years or more. This means that developers and

architects now build their centres with the need for refurbishment already in mind. Keith Whitmore, Westfield’s head of design and construction, says the company has future-proofed its centres so that they can continually change. “For instance, we designed the car park at Stratford so that, if necessary in the future, it can take another level of car parking on the roof and below.” Whitmore reveals that the design

review panel for Stratford asked what the centre could be in the future, if not a shopping mall. He says: “They asked: ‘Have you thought about that?’ and ‘Can this structure cope with other elements?’ And the answer to that is ‘absolutely’. It could be offices, it could be a hotel. Today, centres have to be designed to change.” Trinity Leeds, the only major shopping

centre delivered in the UK in 2013, is also future-proofed. Richard Akers, the developer’s executive director, says: “We are designing Trinity Leeds so that it can be changed quickly and we can introduce new concepts. This means the offer will remain fresh and cool.”

out columns to make visibility down and through the mall much clearer.” Then there is the advancement in

technology. “The technology around our centres is phenomenal,” says Whitmore. “You are no longer relying on signs hanging on the wall or from ceilings – you just walk up to a piece of tech and type in the name of a particular retailer and it will guide you there.” And design improvements are not

limited to the confines of the centres. Broadway Malyan’s 65,000m2

Shopping Centre opened this year in Suzhou, in Jiangsu Province, eastern

Lefo Mall

consideration. McCaffery says: “Civic space creates an area for the local community to engage with the development, a place for people to gather for key events. For example, the civic plaza area that has been created outside the iconic ION Orchard in Singapore is frequently used by the local community for events such as new year’s eve celebrations; this in turn can turn the retail mall into a tourist destination.” Infrastructure and the transport hubs

are also key to modern developments. At both Westfield London and Stratford, they are adjacent to the buildings. “A key thing about these centres is the infrastructures and their connectivity to the rest of the country,” says Whitmore. In Hong Kong, the Elements project

was designed by Benoy as a specific transport-orientated retail and leisure destination. The mall sits atop Kowloon MTR, which connects directly to Hong Kong Central and the international airport. The development also has airport check-in desks, a bus terminal serving mainland China, and hotel shuttle buses.


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