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Big retailers make a splash with brand colours

Refreshing approach: Craigieburn Central’s streets and walkways have been thoughtfully conceived, with the main retailers forming an anchor to the design. Rezoned: Craigieburn Central, once just paddocks, is a welcome new kid on the block. Photo: John Gollings

Housing subdivisions have been multiplying in recent years, particularly in many outer suburban areas around Melbourne. Craigieburn, 26 kilometres north of the city, is one such area. Unfortunately, while the houses spread along the main arterial roads, many services such as shopping centres lagged behind. So Craigieburn Central, a collaboration between Lend Lease and NH Architecture, is a welcome “new kid on the block”. “Previously this area was paddocks, before it was rezoned,” NH Architecture principal Roger Nelson says.

Rather than design a generic centre, enclosed within one large building mass, Lend Lease and NH Architecture were keen to create a different model, one that included streets and pedestrian walkways. These streets and walkways have been thoughtfully conceived, with the main retailers forming an anchor to the design. Colour-coded to capture each brand, the five anchor retailers are expressed internally and externally using their corporate colours. So Target, for example, features a colour palette of red and white. Others are designated in orange, green and blue. “We wanted to articulate the major stores, but we were also keen to create a series of signposts through the site. So, as soon as you leave your car, you know exactly where you are going,” NH Architecture design director Fabian Jungbeck says.

Covering 60,000 square metres of gross leasable floor space, including specialty stores, Craigieburn Central also features fresh food areas, akin to a market, as well as dining halls and cafes. “Since the global financial crisis of 2008, centres such as these need to be cost-effective. The budgets to include superfluous detail are few and far between,” says Nelson, who was keen to express materials as honestly and transparently as possible. “You could say it is a brutalist approach, where buildings express their materials, rather than a series of layers.”

One of the key buildings, for example, articulated in red and white metal cladding, features overscaled graphics, with a series of arrows, large and small, gesturing patrons to follow a certain path. Another building, clad in green metal, has super graphics of abstracted vegetables. These ploys not only provide important signage and pathways through the Craigieburn Central site but also conceal plant equipment on the roof. “There’s a strong industrial design aesthetic. But much of this harks back to the history of the region, with many of the brickworks located in the northern suburbs,” Nelson says.

Brick, used for some of the exterior as well as interior walls, also appears in the design. Red-brick walls feature on the exterior of the large dining hall, as well as making their presence felt inside. NH Architecture was also keen to signpost interior spaces. So rather than simply endless metres of plaster, there’s vibrant colour, punctuated by sculptural folds in the ceilings. At other points, a series of “cut outs”, made from different hues of green aluminium, animate a space. And to complement these playful ceilings is loosely grouped furniture in punchy colours.

NH Architecture was also conscious of creating protected outdoor spaces in the design. “We wanted to create a community, not just a series of stores. There had to be more than just a car park and a few stores at the destination,” says Nelson, who included outdoor cafes in the mix. And rather than leave one’s car and immediately enter a sealed environment, the indoors and outdoors read as one, including vibrant canopies delineating entrances.

“We want people to explore the centre and come here for more than just shopping,” Nelson says.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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