OMA's social shopping centre will be a community asset

Our design weaves together retail, amenity and cultural spaces for use by people in the community with different needs. It will be a social condenser in the area.
– Paul Jones

OMA have unveiled plans for a new shopping centre in Australia that will integrate public spaces, community amenities and facilities for childcare and education to create a more communal experience.

Commissioned for Sandhurst Retail, the Wollert Neighbourhood Centre will be located in the Wollert suburb of Whittlesea, just north of Melbourne.

Due to break ground in 2023, the 9,000sq m (97,000sq ft) facility is intended to be a neighbourhood asset rather than simply a place to buy goods.

"Suburban shopping centres are often places for pure consumption," said Paul Jones, regional director at OMA. "We conceived the Wollert Neighbourhood Centre as social infrastructure where retail and social interaction weigh equal."

"Existing community activity centres in Wollert’s surrounding areas, separated from retail programmes, are often underutilised. They fail to bring the community together. Our design weaves together retail, amenity and cultural spaces for use by people in the community with different needs. It will be a social condenser in the area."

At the heart of the facility will be a shaded courtyard where people can relax and spend time and with spaces for curated community events and daily activities.

There will be spaces on the roof for sports, education and potentially urban agriculture and energy-saving initiatives.

Additional amenities laid out in linear strips – inspired by barcodes – will include facilities for children and wellbeing-focused retail offerings.

The centre is planned as part of a masterplan with residential and commercial programmes that would offer a new type of living option.

"OMA is interested in the vastness of urban development in the present time and its implications on both the urban environment and the rural," explained David Gianotten, managing partner at OMA.

"The design for the Wollert Neighbourhood Centre indicates how architects and planners can look at new communities at the fringe of urbanity and the countryside in the Australian context."

OMA  shopping centre  Australia  public spaces  community 
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