RMIT Interior Design

Roger Kemp, Introduction [×]

This design studio was developed in partnership with Scentre Group and examined the current challenges that face the retail sector due to the immediate impact from the COVID-19 social restrictions and more broadly the transformation of retail operations through online sales.

Students conducted detailed research into the history, current challenges and potential future of retail environments and supporting operations. Early explorations saw the experimentation with a hybridization of 3 brands and retail typologies including the fixed tenancy, kiosk, food court and event.

The final brief asked groups of students (design teams) to develop a response to the hypothetical scenario that a large anchor store decides to vacate Westfield Doncaster leaving a substantial amount of retail space that would require renewal. The brief therefore opens a larger question around future models of retail, the integration of new technologies, social models, and the mall. The brief also required the design teams to address how the ‘vacancy’ is managed in relation to shopper’s experience.

Key considerations in this brief included the implications of social distancing on retail layouts and planning for optimum workflow, a re-evaluation of tenancy sizes, possible hybridization of retail typologies (food court, kiosk, fixed tenancy), innovations in the display of goods and services, reconsiderations for stock location with delivery/pick-up, broader activity for shopping centres (temporary, seasonal, event), integration of online/virtual shopping experiences augmenting physical experiences.

Dr. Roger Kemp
Program Manager, Master of Interior Design

Group I, Retail Innovation and Community Hub [×]

The future of retail is no longer solely for the purpose of consumerism. Shopping centres are a destination for community and lifestyle service, hospitality and retail innovation. Our approach to the renewal of the vacated Myer department store in Westfield Doncaster is to introduce a retail innovation and community hub. We aim to incorporate the idea of an 'Innovation District' typology within the concept of the retail sector.

An 'Innovation District' is an urban hub where institutions, corporations and individuals connect to create and share new ideas. This design facilitates a space which embodies community, whilst providing opportunities for retail and brand collaboration; a place of education and wellness. This proposal offers an environment for work, retail, and community.

The Myer department store plays an important role as the shopping centres key anchor, highlighting its importance for renewal. The Myer store drives foot traffic to the overarching shopping centre, as well as serving as a transitional point to the centre as a whole. Our proposed design develops this location to continue these qualities, as well as serving as a hub for entertainment, hospitality, retail innovation and collaboration to benefit the entire shopping centre.

The design concept encourages a greater connection to nature through incorporating biophilic elements such an planting throughout the space. Topographical characteristics are also used to define and distinguish the multifunctional activities to establish fixed and transitional elements throughout the space.

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Group II, Weco.Hub in Westfield Doncaster [×]

With the advent of e-commerce is changing, the way people typically shop for goods and the role of traditional anchor stores has changed, attuned to a shift in consumers demands. This project looks at a new model for anchor stores which provides an entirely new type of experience that is experiential yet practical. On top of the existing layer of hospitality and retail offerings Westfield Doncaster shopping centre holds, we intend to convert the vacant site into a mixed-use destination, adding a further layer of social and communal context to enrich Scentre Group’s ‘living center’ concept. The proposal curates a variety of activities for communication and interaction, engagement and collaboration, cultural exchange, and economic development.

The ‘Weco.Hub’ incorporates the idea of co-living, co-working and co-retailing in an urban village topology to knit communities together and to provide an in-store experience to participate and explore. It will focus on community, flexibility, and sustainability whilst supporting individuality. The design adopts a modular unit system which will be a 3 by 3 by 3 module, housing various elements and offering flexibly in order to reflect the various programs on offer. The unit will be standardized and can be prefabricated off-site and assembled on site. The material used for the unit will be a cross-laminated timber which has huge environmental advantages.

Weco.Hub is divided into zones containing communal circulation, shared working and living space, retail and food space, daycare and playground, workshops and services, community garden and a central courtyard. The modular units wrap the central atrium courtyard over three levels with every functional area facing the central space. The design proposal of Weco.Hub caters to a sustainable and flexible lifestyle, providing communal and shared spaces to encourage social interaction for people of all ages, positions and backgrounds.

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Group III, The Bay [×]

‘The Bay’ proposes the renewal of a vacant Myers store in the Westfield Doncaster shopping centre with a focus on social interaction. This project aims to transform the site into a community centre for residents, promoting a lifestyle which generates a feeling of belonging and connection with the shopping centre and its community.

The design proposal, including a new physical structure, operation system and marketing strategies, each work to support each other, forming the foundation of the Westfield image, both visually and virtually. The intention of the design is to push the boundary of the current shopping mall experience, exploring its limitless potentials. Although each element of the design is intended to work together, these elements can be applied individually. The operation system provides the potential, generating opportunity for our future. The physical structure holds and extends these potentials, and the marketing strategies are used to communicate and express all these functions to the users.

'The Bay' performs like a beachside location, providing open space, and opportunities for social connection. The project proposes a physical platform to bridge areas within the centre. In addition to this bridge, modular elements are placed throughout the centre which have the potential to evolve as the community needs. The site allows people to gather, celebrate their life and their success, enjoy the harvest, meet and share a moment together.

'The Bay’ proposes a place for community, to play, to relax, to work, to love and to connect. The Bay is a shopping centre, but also a friend, a figure that will always be with us, grow with us, provide care and shelter to protect us. The Bay is a place for living, gathering, and connecting.