Retail, public space and landscaping in Canberra, Australia, inspired by the past and redesigned for the future
In a continuing collaboration with Australian retail developer QIC Global Real Estate (QICGRE), we created the masterplan and detailed designs to restore and revitalize 14,680 sq. m of retail, public space and landscaping in Canberra, Australia, with a new masterplan and newly designed façades, interior architecture and exterior spaces.
Urban development on this scale begins with a period of listening. For us, that meant reengaging with the aspirations of the architect of the original civic masterplan, Walter Burley, whose desire it was to create an optimistic city ‘unlike any other in the world’. Our new design maintained the Ainslie and Monaro Malls’ significance within the public realm but recognised the changing needs of today’s consumers, for whom a retail space is no longer simply about a commoditised shopping experience but better-integrated centres that offer broader civic, cultural and commercial opportunities.
We transformed the Monaro Mall from mall to mixed-use retail, redesigning all internal and external QICGRE-owned areas. Entrances were re-modelled, damaged parts of the original Carrara marble façade were restored, and 100-metre linear arched canopies were reintroduced to provide shade for a new parade of shop fronts. On the ground floor, the Beauty Arcade offers 800 sq. m of beauty departments floor and 1,960 sq. m of beauty boutiques. This acknowledges the era of the original building, but feels distinctly crisp and contemporary. Brands have been encouraged to offer treatments and beauty services alongside conventional retail, whilst customers can choose to peruse the space or browse and buy products and digitally.
By emphasising the civic significance of this landmark project, the remodelled Canberra Centre gives the city and its residents somewhere to meet up and spend time as much as to shop. Most importantly, it restores civic pride in a key public asset, providing a boost for the city of Canberra at both a local and national level.