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FIRST LOOK

ACME among three London firms to collaborate on Melbourne mega-mall

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ACME, Universal Design Studio and Softroom have worked in partnership to complete a series of commercial, civic and hotel spaces in Melbourne

With the recent completion of the Sage Hotel Ringwood, the Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC) has finished a complete overhaul of the 1960s Eastland Shopping Centre, the first in a series of shopping centre transformations by the group. Located in a suburban fringe of Melbourne, Australia, the new mall is the product of a partnership between three design practices in London: ACME, Universal Design Studio and Softroom.

QIC commissioned creative director Seventh Wave to appoint these three studios and oversee the project. ACME designed the new hotel, as well as creating a town square, a sculptural entrance to the mall (the ’Shard’), a library and civic centre, the David Jones department store, and a number of multi-storey car parks. Universal Design Studio was responsible for the interior design of the refurbished central mall, as well as the smaller link malls, and Softroom designed a large glazed rooflight that links the existing part of Eastland with the new Town Square.

096 acme eastland 70 michael gazzola

Eastland Shopping Centre

Source: Michael Gazzola

A new piazza inverts the original inward-facing 60s masterplan and aims to bring a civic focus back to the area with a new sequence of spaces. Rising out of the centre of the square, the Shard provides access to the mall, topped with an undulating roof. Next to this, a new library replaces the smaller facility demolished in 2015. Conceived as a ’shaded box of books and digital information’, the library’s upper section sits above a glass box that houses public functions including a café, art gallery and citizen advice centre.

The 120-room hotel is wrapped in a fritted glass wall – conceived as a ’pleated white curtain’. The hotel sits atop a car park that is surrounded by a pattern of alternating concrete fins, designed to create a ’sense of movement’ for drivers travelling past the building.

096 drawings page 11

Eastland Shopping Centre, site plan

Site plan

Architects’ views

QIC set itself and the design team a challenging task, to transform a typical suburban mall surrounded by parking into a real town centre, and create public and civic spaces for the community. Working closely with Maroondah Council, the three design teams collaborated closely to re-imagine and extend the interior spaces, seamlessly connecting them to a landscape centred around a new town square, which has quickly become the new heart of Ringwood.

ACME has designed a family of five buildings to define this new public space for Eastland: the new Realm Library, a David Jones department store, the town square buildings, the Shard and several car parks, each expressed in different materiality but related in form and expression. It has been a great pleasure to work with QIC, who has pushed all of us to evolve the concept of retail and to create true civic spaces of the future.

Frederich Ludewig, director, ACME

096 acme eastland 108 michael gazzola

Eastland Shopping Centre

Source: Michael Gazzola

We are delighted to have been given the opportunity to partner with QIC on this ambitious project, responding to the need to redefine the shopping mall as a civic space, a true destination that merges the commercial and the cultural and becomes an anchor in the community.

Our designs have focused on providing a landscape that would encourage these urban experiences, taking the visitor on a journey with shifts in scale, pace and mood, and creating spaces with a strong identity and character that are elegant, timeless and human.

Jason Holley, director, Universal Design Studio

While the Town Square was conceived as a contemporary update of the traditional 17th-century London urban square, the East Mall extension was a conscious development of the arcade form exemplified by the well-known late 19th-century gallerias in Milan and Moscow.

The East Mall is formed from an array of tall arches, which gives the space a real air of generosity and lightness, as well as the future flexibility to retail on three levels.

The proportion of these arches emphasises the height of the space and the close spacing of the structural elements helps achieve a fineness which belies their scale. We’re proud to have been a part of a fantastic team of designers who’ve contributed to the success of the project, and it’s a real testament to the skill of the client team that the final result appears so seamlessly integrated.

Chris Bagot, director and co-founder, Softroom

096 drawings page 02

Eastland Shopping Centre, carpark facade detail

Car park facade detail

Project data

Location Ringwood, Australia
Client QIC
Creative director Seventh Wave
Date 2012–2016
Size Library 3,100m², Retail 58,000m², Town Square 4,500m², Shard 180m², David Jones department store 7,000m² 

Shard:

Architect ACME
Executive architect The Buchan Group
Contractor Probuild
Structural engineer AKT/Hyder
Services engineer Hoare Lea/NDY
Project management Thinc
Quantity surveyor WT Partnership
Landscape architect ACME

Ringwood Library:

Architect ACME
Executive architect The Buchan Group
Contractor Probuild
Structural engineer AKT/ Hyder
Services engineer Hoare Lea/NDY
Project management Thinc
Quantity surveyor WT Partnership
Landscape architect ACME

Sage Hotel:

Brand Next Story Hotel
Facade architect ACME
Executive architect The Buchan Group
Contractor Probuild

David Jones department store and car park:

Architect ACME
Executive architect The Buchan Group
Contractor Probuild
Structural enginner AKT/ Hyder
Services engineer Hoare Lea/ NDY
Project management Thinc
Quantity surveyor WT Partnership

Central Mall:

Interior design Universal Design Studio
Executive architect The Buchan Group

East Mall:

Architect Softroom
Interior design Universal Design Studio
Executive architect The Buchan Group

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