A Place for the New Generation

In the last few years it has become more apparent than ever that shopping centres have become destinations and far more than mere places to shop. Placemaking is about transforming these destinations into environments that people want to visit and return to. Here, RLI takes a look at just a selection of some of the top placemaking projects from around the world.

Before the on-set of Covid-19, a trend in the industry was seeing shoppers of today prefer urban locations and it was fast becoming apparent that people were more likely to travel.This then created more global tourism, attracting the presence of international brands and the need for global portfolios, which then lead to world-class shopping centres across all continents, and with the trend of people wanting more than just mere shopping on their travels, placemaking on a global scale.

Although obviously people will always enjoy and prefer to shop in stores, they have become more demanding. Alongside all the functional aspects of a shopping trip, they want an experience.This is what retail placemaking strives to deliver – the experience along with the functional.

Federica Buricco, Associate at CallisonRTKL, a global architecture firm observes that: “Urban social spaces are facing increasing challenges, due to the combination of the ever- changing retail sector, and the addition of new generations of citizens from a variety of backgrounds, all with different expectations and spending habits coming onto the scene. Placemaking partners include individuals, businesses and private or public entities, such as museums or schools; all must respond to the necessities of the community.The process of creating a place can be government-led, or informal and spontaneous. In either case, must be a multi-faceted undertaking for the collective.”

In the pages that follow, RLI will take a look at some completed and upcoming placemaking projects across the globe and highlighting what makes them exactly that… a place to come to, but also a place to return to.


Due to originally open back in February but now on hold due to the circumstances affecting the industry, AREA15 is situated about two miles from the Las Vegas Strip and it will include retail tenants, an ice-cream parlour, a gift shop and food court and offers a fresh, exciting and immersive bazaar in an experiential retail and entertainment complex. Developed by Fisher Brothers and Beneville Studios, Meow Wolf is an anchor tenant on site and the project offers infinitely customisable space for a curated collection of experimental entertainment, immersive retail and other businesses looking for something outside of the staid retail environment.The backbone that will tie the project together is the spine, an ever-changing corridor filled with one-of- a-kind art installations, engaging brand activations, unique commerce and inspiring and beverage offerings.

After year upon year of delays, construction troubles and possible cancellation entirely, the American Dream project in East Rutherford, New Jersey finally opened its doors late last year, albeit partially. An inclusive, diverse community has been built by developer Triple Five Group that will welcome guests from around the block and around the world when things begin to return to normal. It is an international hub with entertainment experiences beyond compare. In recent weeks, Triple Five Group has spoken out, saying that when it does re-open, the mall will have roughly 70 per cent enter tainment space and 30 per cent retail space. Previously it was 55 per cent for entertainment and 45 per cent for retail.Furthermore, there are plans to add 3,500 hotel rooms with direct access to the mall.This will allow visitors from further away to stay over and fully explore the site. With a Nickelodeon theme park and DreamWorks Animation Water Park, there is likely to be plenty of activities to keep visitors entertained.

Situated in the absolute heart of the city, the Diamond Collection residences of 380 Melbourne elevate style, amenity and convenience to luxurious new heights.The two shimmering towers of 380 Melbourne will incorporate a variety of residences, a boutique hotel managed by one of the world’s premier luxury hotel operators, and a long list of class-leading amenities, all complemented by a selection of ground floor retail and the convenience of having the best of Melbourne on your doorstep. Melbourne has an insatiable appetite for good food and an all-day menu that reflects the myriad tastes of its multicultural population. The city ranks among the finest retail destinations in the world, and like 380 itself, the absolute best of its shopping is located right in the city’s heart. Being developed by the Brady Group and designed by Elenberg Fraser, the skyscraper project is also set to include 728 residential apartments and 312 hotel rooms when its doors open later in 2020.

Commercial Bay is where the world steps ashore and begins its love affair with New Zealand and where extraordinary experiences in shopping, entertainment and hospitality begin. Being developed by Precinct Properties, Commercial Bay is unlike any development seen before in this part of the world, and not just in scale. It’s a destination in its own right: a place where world-class retail and food and beverage experiences sit alongside a striking space for business, hosting an estimated 10,000 workers. Bringing together the largest concentration of high quality retail and food and beverage in the city, a luxury hotel and the striking new PwC Tower, Commercial Bay is set to become the most transformational project Auckland has ever seen. Never before has a single project brought together the best of everything in one location – a world class commercial space, public transport, international quality retail, public spaces and hospitality environments, as well as striking urban design. The opening was due in March this year put has been put on hold due to the effects of the coronavirus and a new opening date has not yet been released.

Located in China’s Chongqing city, the world’s largest metropolis with a population of over 30 million, Raffles City Chongqing takes pride of place at Chaotianmen – a historic site dating more than 2,000 years. It is Singapore’s and CapitaLand’s largest single development in China at $4.8bn. The heart of the 1.12 million square metre megastructure is the 235,000sq m shopping centre, which has been integrated with a transport hub comprising a metro station, bus interchange, cruise centre and ferry terminal. In addition to the retail element of the project, the integrated development comprises Ascott Raffles City Chongqing serviced residence, InterContinental Raffles City Chongqing Hotel, Grade A office space and luxury apartments within the eight skyscrapers. Seven years in the making and launched in September last year, Raffles City Chongqing by developer CapitaLand was purposefully built to spearhead the renewal of the Chaotianmen riverfront district with world-class live- work-play amenities and improved accessibility.

Image 5 - Jewel Changi Airport's magnificent Forest Valley
Developers: Changi Airport Group & CapitaLand

Located right in the heart of Singapore Changi Airport, Jewel Changi Airport is a multi-dimensional lifestyle and entertainment hub that enhances Singapore’s appeal as a travel destination and for travellers to choose Changi Airport as a stopover location. Featuring a distinct dome-shaped glass-and-steel façade, Jewel offers a wide range of compelling lifestyle offerings that draws and excites visitors, including unique play attractions at Canopy Park, creative gardens, world-class shopping and dining experiences, a hotel and airport facilities.This project was designed to capture tourism mindshare and significantly augment Changi Airport’s status as a leading international air hub, drawing international travellers from all over the world. Jewel has welcome more than 50 million visitors since its opening in April 2019 by developers CapitaLand and Changi Airport Group. With its rich theatre of experiences, Jewel attracts new and repeat visitors to Singapore and is an iconic getaway for both local residents and international travellers to indulge in a spot of retail therapy, relax amidst the lush greenery or engage in timeless fun and play with family and friends.

Cosmopolitan, open and urban – Westfield Hamburg- Überseequartier is a one-of-a-kind place. Designed as an integrated district and central part of the HafenCity in Hamburg, it connects places to live and work with attractive cultural offers and leisure facilities as well as innovative retail and enter tainment concepts. An additional highlight will be the state-of-the-art cruise terminal. With this mixed-use development, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield is creating the lively essence of the contemporary Hamburg, and connects future-oriented models for urban living with the historically developed Hamburg identity. The goal: a vibrating meeting place for people from Hamburg and tourists. This mixed- use urban district will feature flexible offices with 360° view over HafenCity and the harbour, modern apartments with direct access to the waterfront, three hotels, and a 200-store shopping centre offering the best local and international brands together with a wide range of services and digital innovations, for an enhanced customer journey. The largest city-centre project in Europe, Westfield Hamburg- Überseequartier is set to become a new urban community hotspot when it launches in 2022.

Due to open in Q3 2021, Caselle Open Mall by developers Aedes SIIQ will be an innovative place, unique in Italy. Highly appealing, thanks to its real town feel of indoor and outdoor spaces, it will be a venue where visitors will be able to enjoy an authentic shopping experience. Painstakingly designed, the mall combines contemporary hi-tech elements with natural stone walkways, facades and light, airy porticoes subtly reminiscent of classicTurin streets and squares. The project’s green heart is underlined by pedestrian and cycle paths, ample green spaces, green roofs and electric vehicle charging stations.The new development will feature 114,000sq m of GLA, 230 shops for international and local brands, 83,900sq m of space dedicated to retail with 18,700sq m dedicated to entertainment concepts and 9,400sq m of food space available.

Cherrywood Town Centre will be a 53,500sq m retail- led mixed-use development that will contain up to 1,300 apartments and a 200-key hotel. The plaza level of Cherrywood Town Centre will be made up of an array of retail units, while the first floor will boast an extensive food cour t. The second level will be home to a state-of-the-ar t multiplex cinema. Parking will be contained in a two-level podium car park with direct access to theTown Centre plaza. Being developed by Hines, the project is set to become a vibrant new destination in South Dublin which will include retail, F&B, leisure, workspace and community, medical and residential uses when it opens in 2022.

Galataport Project is a city project with a master plan coherent with the neighbourhood texture of the Karaköy region and İstanbul. With the new port, the Karaköy coastline, which is currently closed to public access, will be transformed into a promenade open to public, connecting the city with the sea. The complex, which was due to open in March before the coronavirus struck, will include a 52,000sq m retail complex boasting 250 units for food, beverage and general retail, 43,000sq m of leasable office space well as underground parking for up to 2,300 vehicles. The project also involves extensive renovation and landscaping of a further 30,000sq m of the historic Tophane district adjacent to the port.

A new place to eat, drink and shop and situated in North London’s old postal sorting office, Islington Square is located in the heart of Islington.Developed by Cain International, the project opened its doors to the public for the first time in October 2019. With a placemaking focus, its soft launch introduced ‘Chapter One’ – a nod to the site’s literary roots. In response to current closures and restrictions on travel,‘ChapterTwo:Time Well Spent’ marks Islington Square’s journey to engage with the community as a digital space to ensure the placemaking ethos can continue and to connect to the development’s customers in a sprawling 170,000sq ft space. Islington Square is a place to discover something new; be that an independent restaurant, a concept bar or an unexpected boutique store. It is home to a luxury health club and a subterranean six-screen cinema, as well as to a tree-lined boulevard and several theatre spaces. Beyond the shopping arcades, old and new structures house an array of residential homes. This is a place where culture, wellbeing, performance and literature exist, side by side.

Edinburgh St James, being developed by Nuveen will be a world renowned, retail-led, mixed-use destination for the future. Boasting a world-class retail, leisure, hotel and residential offer and injecting over £1bn of investment into the city, the scheme will strengthen Edinburgh’s global standing by transforming the city’s east end. The project will ensure Edinburgh becomes an inspiring, attractive and vibrant destination for people to live, shop, experience and play. The scheme will feature 850,000sq ft of prime retail, food and leisure space and 85 retail units over five levels.This reimagining of Edinburgh is currently due to open its first phase to the public in October this year.

Currently under construction by Indigo Property,Tunis Garden City is a concept that imagines a district that is well connected to the rest of the city, yet combines the essential components of a self-contained community, thus making Tunis City Garden as a ‘city within a city’.The new city ofTunis will be served by a number of facilities including office and residential buildings, a museum, an entertainment and leisure, a hotel/service apartments and retail components. However it is the retail and leisure offering, situated at the heart of the community, which makes this development exceptionally unique.The project is currently due to open next year.

On 4 September 2019, Gulf Related opened the expansion to The Galleria’s established Luxury Collection, creating Abu Dhabi’s first super-regional mixed-use destination located in the heart of the city.The Galleria offers immersive lifestyle experiences for every member of the community, as well as world-class shopping and dining, from international high street brands and casual eateries, to the most coveted luxury fashion and jewellery brands and many of the most sought after restaurant venues in the country. Placemaking was a core element of the project, from communal spaces such as Central Kitchens, an innovative new dining concept and landscaped urban rooftop parks dedicated to leisure, children’s activities and sports, to an unparalleled entertainment offering that caters to all ages. Building on The Luxury Collection’s success, The Galleria’s Expansion fulfils a gap in the market as the only super-regional destination in the heart of the UAE capital. It is a place for the whole community to gather in unique spaces such as urban rooftop parks, enjoy innovative culinary concepts, houses one of the largest cinemas in the region, and encompasses three levels of exciting family entertainment.