OMA designs suburban mall in Melbourne

OMA’s Australian office has designed a $40-million “neighbourhood centre” in the suburb of Wollert, 26 kilometres north of central Melbourne.

Centred around an open green courtyard, the facility will have a focus on “community integration” and will feature traditional retail offerings along with health and wellbeing amenities including a GP “superclinic” and a yoga studio.

Also earmarked for the centre are a kindergarten and multi-use community spaces, with leafy and shaded public areas positioned alongside spaces specifically curated for cultural events and daily community activities.

“The Wollert centre will feature sweeping, open and flexible spaces for the community to come together, to allow visitors to enjoy cultural activities hosted by local performers; the whole space has been designed to bring people together in a place they can call their own,” said Paul Jones, OMA’s regional director, who is based in Australia.

“We see many subregional centres that contribute positively in an economic context, but in terms of how they fit into the environment and how they contribute to the locale from a social and community perspective, there is a lot of room to move.”

The centre will cover 9,000 square metres, with the shaded courtyard and amphitheatre providing the arena for cultural events and performances.

The Wollert neighbourhood centre, designed by OMA.

The Wollert neighbourhood centre, designed by OMA.

This unique take on the suburban mall is a project of developer Sandhurst Retail.

“Sandhurst Retail is willing to explore new ways to reimagine existing typologies – that’s an engaging prospect for our team, and we treasure our collaboration,” said Jones.

“When designing, we first set out to understand the project and Sandhurst Retail’s vision – we understood that they wanted to bring fundamental differences to the current model of suburban and subregional shopping centres, and our team welcomed that forward-thinking approach.”

Plans for the centre are currently with the local council. Works are expected to begin in 2023.

OMA’s New Museum for Western Australia, designed with Hassell, was completed late last year.

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