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    Highpoint Shopping Centre by Grimshaw Architects and The Buchan Group

    Lisa Rapley

    Nestled in the suburb of Maribyrnong, the Highpoint Shopping Centre is only a short distance from Melbourne’s CBD and serves the city’s western suburbs.

    Grimshaw Architects were approached by the property co-owner, The GPT Group, to provide a concept design for a new 30,000sqm extension to the existing shopping centre.

    Grimshaw worked in association with The Buchan Group, which has designed numerous stages of Highpoint and contributed "retail smarts" to the project. It drew on 50 plus years of experience in designing shopping centres, most notably Westfield London and the Christchurch Re:Start 'mall in shipping containers' project. Ashton Raggatt Macdougall also had a role in th early master plan of the shopping centre.

    Highpoint is the first retail centric project Grimshaw have undertaken since the acclaimed Sainsbury’s building in Camden, London.

    Challenging existing retail perceptions, the designers broke down the traditional inward-looking approach. A vibrant public realm with strong connections to the surrounding environment, landscape and community has been created.

    Two new unique fashion malls and a fresh food market are part of the redevelopment, with approximately 120 specialty retailers and the first David Jones department store in the western suburbs included.

    Environmental and social sustainability are core themes of the design, with mall areas conceived as beautiful public spaces which have fresh air and sunlight.

    Operable facades allow the building to have natural ventilation throughout, while promoting a greater association with the outside weather conditions.

    ETFE is used within the building’s skylights to provide a lightweight and sustainable alternative to glass. Other initiatives in the design include rain water collection, extensive landscape swales within car parks to treat surface water and careful material selections.

    Additionally, the design focused on creating a meaningful public realm. This was achieved by breaking down the development into smaller ‘places’ which have their own unique identity and character.

    This approach resonates with the context and people of Melbourne’s western suburbs, while differentiating Highpoint against its competition and creating a stronger retail experience.

    Varied materials used also reflect the vibrancy and diversity of the surrounding community. It was cost-effective and, where possible, natural materials were used throughout the scheme, including timber, blue stone and bare concrete.

    The fashion mall is the shape of a crescent, which creates views that change and unfold as shoppers move through the space.

    Inspired by contemporary art galleries, the form is defined by the quality of light, order and calmness. The floating roof reinforces the sweeping curve, while full-height glazed louvers above the shop fronts open and close in response to environmental conditions.

    In contrast, the eco mall has a more organic form. The structure is built from timber, which continues through the site, connecting the precincts of new and existing, inside and out, food and fashion.

    Geometry of the eco mall responds to the constraints of the existing site, while its waves show vertical movement and gathering spaces.

    Grimshaw and The Buchan Group brought a pragmatic response to design and a broader urban consideration to this development. Sustainable solutions were provided, while remaining viable both functionally and aesthetically.

    Results speak for themselves, with this flowing piece of architecture meeting both the client’s brief and responding to the surrounding community, while breaking away from traditional retail models.

    This article has been updated to reflect that Grimshaw Architects worked in association with The Buchan Group and that Ashton Raggatt Macdougall was involved in the preparation of the master plan.

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