Experiential design and sustainability key to town centre success
(As featured in Shopping Centre News – the voice of the shopping centre industry)
With consumers welcoming the comfort and convenience of online shopping, large retail centres must innovate to increase footfall and create loyal, repeat customers.
Experiential retail is the future, with modern customers eager to embrace a more immersive shopping experience that goes beyond simply visiting a centre, making a purchase and returning home.
Today’s discerning shopper wants variety and entertainment housed in an accessible, aesthetically pleasing and environmentally-conscious package so that a centre visit is not just about practicalities, but also the creation of pleasurable and memorable experiences.
Set midway between Port Macquarie’s coastline and hinterland, the 25,000+m² Sovereign Hills Town Centre, Sovereign Place– currently in Stage 1 of construction – will be the epitome of a development striving to meet the demands of the modern customer without sacrificing the connection to its natural surroundings.
The predominantly outdoor centre features lush landscaping, locally-sourced recycled timber arbours and natural sandstone, blending seamlessly with the environment. The overall offer strives to meet the demands of an increasingly savvy regional consumer base that seek a blend of quality retail and social connection.
Starting as a 5,200m²,neighbourhood shopping centre and then growing over time, Stage 1 will be operational by end 2019, and will include a full line supermarket, chemist, café/restaurant, specialist retailers and service providers. The future Stage 2 will bring a community centre, entertainment precinct, commercial offices and additional retail spaces.
Globally renowned architects Buchan provided the architectural services, interior design of public spaces, centre graphics and signage for Australian developer Lewis Land Group.
Managing Principal of Buchan’s Gold Coast studio Brett Saville said the design team embraced the opportunity to pay homage to the natural beauty and idyllic climate of the Port Macquarie region in their design.
“Port Macquarie is an expanding coastal city, with Sovereign Hills Town Centre and the surrounding Sovereign Hills master planned community very much the focal point of this expansion,” Mr Saville said.
“Our design for stage 1 of the Town Centre maximises the opportunities that the ideal climate of Port Macquarie offers, but in addition to that also draws on the rich traditions of agricultural and timber industries of the Port Macquarie hinterland.
“The timbers used have all been locally sourced and combine with the rest of the materials palette to create a design solution that sits comfortably within its environment and creates a destination that meets the needs of the local customers.”
Lewis Land Group Head of Development Michael Long said incorporating biophilic design principles and sustainability measures was important to the development’s modern appeal.
“Sustainability has been considered throughout the design, with electric car charging stations, reclaimed water usage and roof-mounted solar panels, aimed at reducing the centre’s energy footprint and operating costs,” Mr Long said.
“On an economic level, providing a sustainable community is at the centre of our vision for the Sovereign Hills Town Centre and we have been particular in appointing local contractors and tradespeople, and leasing to local retailers to ensure the community continues to prosper.”
Collectively, Stage 1 of the construction and subsequent employment opportunities within the centre are expected to generate more than 600 permanent and casual positions in the region.
Buchan is one of Australasia’s most acclaimed architectural, interior and graphic design firms, operating across 11 locations in Australia, New Zealand, China, UAE and the UK for more than 130 years. Their team of over 375 professionals has created some of the world’s most recognised retail, mixed-use, hotel, residential, educational, entertainment, transport, civic, health and commercial projects.