Property Week: The great design challenge

1st December 2021

Property Week set nine architects and design experts the task of reimagining and repurposing a tired shopping centre in a secondary location struggling to adapt to the post-Covid world. The brief was to repurpose an imaginary 350,000 sq ft centre built in the 1970s. Spanning two storeys, it has a roof car park and two anchor stores at either end, each of 50,000 sq ft.

Here you can see Sheppard Robson's creative response to the brief:

Shopping centres can be the new social glue that brings communities together. Many of our clients are looking at how these often tired, yet highly adaptable, structures can be reinvigorated to be the social, environmental, and economic lifeblood of our towns and cities.

Imagine entering a double-height space that merges the lower-ground and ground floor to create energetic, civic-minded spaces. This is a family-oriented, 24/7 environment, with a skatepark during the day as well as music venue and theatre during later hours.

In the post-covid world, with the continuing rise of the “15-minute city”, we have noticed an increasing demand for flexible workplaces close to home. We have anchored both ends of the shopping centre with a new range of multi-tenant workplace, alongside incubator space for science and R&D. The convergence between these is an increasingly pertinent theme in our industry, and something the high ceiling spaces of the shopping centre could exploit.

Above ground floor are two floors of retail, food and beverage. This “in-between” environment can also provide a more informal place to study, work and meet; this links together family and work life, with all age groups welcome.

We would also encourage healthcare to be integrated within the building, again using the ceiling heights of the retail units and also highlighting that shopping centres can provide essential services to establish deep roots in the community.

The top level of the building, with views out over the town, is half parking (complete with “destination charging” provision for electric vehicles, with new cycle facilities at ground floor) and half flexible outdoor deck used for pop-up retail, drive-in cinema and a rooftop drinks terrace.

We talked about how shopping centres can be a harsh, unwelcoming environments and we wanted to borrow aspects from the wellness agenda so often discussed in office design. The atrium is a relaxing green space, with biophilia and maximising natural light lifting the overall experience and softening the acoustics.

To read the full article and to see the response from the other designers, click here.