PROJECT 4000sqm shopping village with 12 tenancies, including an IGA, six food providers, a bottle shop and a real estate agent. Three-year project.
BRIEF Reinstate the former shopping village, which burnt down in a fire and had significant mid-century and socio-historical sensitivities.
SCOPE Concept and building design of new Empire Village Shopping Centre, plus interior and operational design of IGA and The Groper & His Wife.
RESOLUTION It was the City Beach community that spearheaded the demand for the Empire Village Shopping Centre rebuild. The site had burned down in 2014, yet had been such an important place for the community that residents wanted the rebirth of the shopping centre to start immediately.
The suburb has historical significance for Perth and Australia as the location of the Empire Games (now Commonwealth Games) Village in 1962 (some of the homes are still found throughout the area). Situated on the highest point in City Beach, the Empire Village Shopping site was the Athletes Dining Hall and a valued destination for residents.
Brought onboard as principle designers, we wanted to celebrate and promote this history. We were focused on keeping the height of the building as low as possible to accentuate its horizontal line and respect its parkland setting. In the design of the building it was important to us that we reference modernist lines, while providing a contemporary shopping precinct to the suburb.
Many of the historical markers had been lost, so we reinstated the flagpole and plaques that explained the history of the site and suburb. We also approached council to close a road that ran between the shopping centre and parkland. This would give us more parking space, plus connect the two areas as one and bring the park closer to the building. That was a huge win for the village as families can now buy their meals and walk safely to the grassed areas of the park without crossing two roads.
We designed deep balconies with a north-west fascia and adjustable louvres on the western end to shield from wind. Skylights provide natural light deep under the balcony. We kept the tenancy space at a minimum so tables and chairs are mostly on the balcony to activate the exterior and promote the connection between the built and natural areas. It was important for us that the shopping village look more like a boulevard. Today, residents walk along the balcony of the shopping village and can stop to eat or chat with others they know. At certain times of the day, it’s so busy with locals it’s hard to find a seat.
In terms of materials, we looked to an honest palette that speaks a West Australian design language. Red brick blends with the residential context of the location and is a humble material; timber signage fascia grounds the structure into the site and acknowledges the surrounding parklands of trees; steel references modernist architecture and allowed us to design the generous balcony; fresh whites and concrete paths identify the easy beach culture of the suburb and hint at nostalgia for simpler times; and we introduced planters for layering of landscaping to soften the overall structure and bring it back to its ‘garden suburb’ roots.