The GPT Group’s Wollongong Central by HDR Rice Daubney
Commercial Architecture: National Award
Australian Institute of Architects
The GPT Group’s Wollongong Central redefines the role of a shopping centre as an important city node and as having a responsibility beyond its property boundaries. An exemplary retail precinct has been created that connects outwards rather than solely focusing inwards. It makes a significant contribution to revitalizing the City of Wollongong on multiple levels. It strengthens pedestrian urban connections and sets up a visual dialogue with this regional city. It re-establishes a connection to place through design and detail interpretations of Wollongong’s industrial past and local native flora. It also provides a commercial incubator that gives Wollongong the confidence to further develop and activate its central business district.
Wollongong Central benefits from conceptual depth in its visual articulation and in its planning. It shows how a quality retail precinct can revitalize a city through: integrating into its circulation urban laneways that reinforce connections to the city; seamlessly incorporating large public artworks; creating attractive, naturally lit environments for the shopping experience; providing intelligent public amenity; and improving the commercial environment to the point where the demand for leasing tenancies outstrips supply.
The jury was particularly impressed by the architects’ passion for making a difference, by the developer’s foresight in seeing value in design excellence, and by the strong relationship that was developed with the City of Wollongong. This project is a showcase of how vision is developed, realized and achieved through collaboration and shared aspirations.