Retail design: reimagining the shopping centre

25th March 2019

New London Quarterly has published an article by partner and retail lead Claire Haywood exploring the subject of retail design in relation to shopping centres and how these can be enlivened by making public space an essential part of their design.

The article discusses the importance of moving from transactional to experience-led spaces. These will break the traditional homogeneity enriching and intensifying user experiences by providing something that can't be recreated online.

The full article can be found below.


By Claire Haywood, partner and retail lead

The traditional model of the shopping centre was the inward-looking 'dumbbell plan, positioning anchor stores at each end, with regular deep-plan shop units facing an internalised mall space. For us, it's become clear that high-quality public space is increasingly the new anchor for successful retail centres, and these spaces can weave together a range of uses that are experience-led and not just transactional. So how can we push this further?

Our idea is to inject playful ideas into the heart of the shopping centre. Breaking the traditional homogeneity, we propose using the central void of the shopping centre to position a new insertion — an ultra-flexible framework allowing for pop-up stores, green spaces and opportunities for varied retail experiences that surprise and delight. By obscuring sightlines, we are going against the grain of normal retail development, but this disruption would become the draw previously provided by anchor stores.

So what about our empty anchor stores? In times when retail was king, community assets were pushed to the periphery of towns to maximise space for shoppers. But now we have the opportunity to bring healthcare services and community uses back into the heart of towns. The smaller empty shops can be revitalised as leisure and community spaces — fitness suites, art galleries, studios — that rethink retail, providing experiences that retail e-commerce can't.