July 7, 2017
The Vertical Village Town Square
As more people migrate into urban centres, seeking vibrant areas to live and work, the high rise is being redefined. While vertical typologies can deal with density, they’ve done a poor job of promoting community. Enter the vertical village town square, which combines the diverse offerings of mixed-use buildings with a rich retail experience at the base. These aren’t condos or offices built over a mall but a curated retail hub that reflects the lifestyle of its “residents” and enhances the village experience. Instead of seeing podium space as another vacancy to be filled, developers treat it as an asset that leverages retail to enhance the village experience. That mission tends to favour tenants like hip eateries, fitness clubs, and local retailers over big-box brands that do little to convey a building’s identity. The square is not merely a shopping location but a village commons that serves to connect the community and energize its residents through shared experiences.
Those experiences are often created by the tenants themselves, who are encouraged to view the square as a premium platform for their brand. People who pass through the square to get to their workplace or home don’t expect to be targeted by the retailers there. They demand it. Concerts, classes, smoothie samples, and virtual reality demos are part of the fabric of village life. This is where they stop to socialize and be entertained. If someone breaks a crock pot, they can buy another online. To purchase it here requires something extra, like a cooking class. The mixed use developer understands this social contract, and act as gatekeepers to make sure tenants add value and vibrancy to the square.
Synchronising The Retail & Lifestyle Offer With Location And Elective Time
- The podium environment is no longer viewed as a gap to fill but as an asset that can be developed to delight users and draw more people to the development.
- The square is curated and designed to transform the shopping environment from a space for selling things that people need to a space for experiencing things that people want.
- The developer seeks out tenants who reflect the aspirations of the users and personality of the village brand.
- Retail mixes may “borrow” from adjacent property attractors, creating critical mass.
- Each consumer/guest has a daily “story” that needs to be fulfilled by an aligned offer and experience.
An outcome that is woven into usage patterns of the context, expands its dining offer based on renewed demand, introduces new retailer experiences, all while providing brand defining spaces.
The podium comprising retail, restaurant, food court and associated public realm, are important aspects in elevating the status of the MLC development. It is the marriage of three elements: public space, retail and commercial identity that is key to the ongoing success of the MLC Centre as an urban icon.
The MLC Centre is an important connective link in the city, and is surrounded by a series of activated city streets. Maintaining and enhancing the centre’s role as a connective destination — specifically between Martin Place and King Street — is crucial to its continued success. The Centre’s relationship to Martin Place creates a public plaza, drawing people into the retail, food offerings and also acts as a key address to the tower lobby. The reactivation of Lees Court and Rowe Street as a natural and vibrant city laneway provides a fantastic opportunity for growth within the urban realm, in keeping with the City of Sydney’s Laneway Revitalisation Plan.