In today’s hectic world, trends in the retail sector come and go, but Placemaking has become a key topic and remains a major talking point within the sector. Shopping centres have become mixed-use destinations, housing much more than a selection of the finest retail brands, Placemaking is about transforming these destinations into environments that people want to not only visit, but return to.

Placemaking at its core is a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces, capitalising on a local community’s assets, inspiration and potential, with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness and well-being.

In the article ‘What is Placemaking?’ by Susanna Moreira, the author highlights that Placemaking shows that the creation of places transcends the material dimension and involves aspects such as sociability, uses, activities, access, connections, comfort and image to create bonds between people and a sense of place. The piece goes on to explain that Placemaking means creating places and focusing on transforming public spaces to strengthen the connections between people and these places. Placemaking is a process centred on people and their needs, aspirations, desires, and visions which relies strongly on community participation.

After two years that nobody could have anticipated, people, perhaps more than ever, enjoy the physical experience of shopping in a store or browsing through a shopping complex. However what has changed is that these people want more and need new and exciting experiences and attractions, they want reasons to visit locations, and to return to them. They want to be drawn to a place.

Over the next few pages, RLI will be zoning in and highlighting a selection of important examples of placemaking projects, pointing out examples that already open and operating and other sites that are in the pipeline.
Placemaking schemes around the world Tatu City is a 5,000-acre, mixed-use development in Kenya by developer Rendeavour with homes, schools, offices, a shopping district, medical clinics, nature areas, a sport & entertainment complex and manufacturing area for more than 150,000 residents and tens of thousands of daily visitors. The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has given Strategic Environment Assessment approval to the second phase of Tatu City, as the new city expands to meet demand for businesses, homes and social amenities. The approval from NEMA paves the way for Tatu City to develop on its 2,500-acre second phase. The city’s first phase, also 2,500 acres, has more than 50 businesses operating or developing, two schools open educating 3,000 students daily and more than 5,000 homes delivered or under construction.

After launching its first site in Las Vegas back in 2020, the award-winning immersive art and entertainment destination plans to open its second location in Orlando, Florida in 2024. AREA15, the immersive art and entertainment district in Las Vegas, has announced plans to bring its award-winning concept to Orlando, Florida. The new location is expected to open in 2024 and will be located in the heart of the city’s tourist corridor, off Interstate 4. The Orlando site will feature a 300,000sq ft structure on 17 acres, and there will be over 150,000sq ft of leasable retail space available. AREA15 Orlando will continue to fully embrace the experience economy, welcoming guests of all ages to enjoy a range of attractions, art installations, retail offerings, restaurants and bars, and more, all under one roof. It will also host events, art exhibitions, nightlife and shows.

Developer Hongkong Land last year launched The Ring, Chongqing which is an innovative commercial complex combining shopping, social, culture and entertainment. It offers an unprecedented selection of commercial functionality and nature in China. The development encompasses a GFA of 420,000sq m, of which 170,000sq m is dedicated to the shopping mall and retail streets, 110,000sq m to the Grade-A office buildings, and 70,000sq m to the indoor-outdoor botanical garden. Bridging city life with magnificent nature, The Ring possesses the largest indoor botanical garden yet in Southwest China. It presents a notable “urban-nature community” by encouraging citizens to enjoy a new living with nature theme. The development also includes sports- and culture-themed interactive spaces.

Visitors gathered on 30 September to celebrate the opening of Taikoo Li Qiantan by developers Swire Properties and Lujiazui Group, the first retail centre promoting wellness as a key attribute of its design. Located in the heart of the new Qiantan central business district, near the Huangpu River and south of the Shanghai Expo, Taikoo Li Qiantan integrates biophilic design and principles of wellness with over 120,000sq m of retail, food and beverage offerings. Crowning the top level of the project is a 450m-long, outdoor running track that weaves between shops, functioning as the top level’s main circulation path and defining symbol of wellness within the project. Taikoo Li Qiantan’s wellness-themed shopping concept is showcased with the south and north zones, also known as the “Stone Zone” and the “Wood Zone”, which feature a naturalistic design concept inspired by stone and wood across the façade and which are connected via an 8,000sq m central park. The two zones offer a diverse mix of luxury and contemporary fashion labels, lifestyle brands and F&B concepts, with all of these elements coming together to create a unique ‘Wellness’ experience for visitors.

One Sydney Harbour, Sydney, Australia
Developer: Lendlease

The One Sydney Harbour project by developer Lendlease is one of the most exciting and unique projects in Sydney. The massive redevelopment project took what was once a 22-hectare disused container port near the CBD and turned it into a sanctuary for residents to live, work, and enjoy the outdoors right in the heart of Sydney. The area will include extensive parks and exceptional dining options, not to mention access to numerous ferries and an upcoming metro. Barangaroo also happens to be Australia’s first carbon-neutral precinct, which it obtained in 2019 under Sustainability Manager Anita Mitchell, who is now the head of the NSW government’s Placemaking committee.

Qetaifan Island North, Lusail City, Qatar
Developer: Qetaifan Projects

Located off Lusail City in Qatar, Qetaifan Island North by Qetaifan Projects is designed to be Qatar’s future iconic destination. The project spans approximately 1.3 million square meters, with 129,296sq m of waterpark alone. The island also features exciting entertainment attractions that the whole family can enjoy, in addition to diversified waterfronts, distinct neighbourhoods, luxurious hotels, pedestrian friendly streets, living gardens, and world class facilities that make it a modern, globally-competitive community with a unique design that is inspired by the rich culture and nature of the region. The main artery of the island, linking all zones together is the Linear Park. An artificial Salt Lake linked to the sea, allowing visitors to enjoy fishing, boating and plenty of other family-friendly fun activities. Spread over the lakeside are community facilities, such as snack stalls, prayer rooms, seating, as well as meeting rooms, game rooms, and a kid’s club. Much of the construction for the project is now complete and the entertainment landmark will then be fully inaugurated at the FIFA World Cup 2022 in November.

Diriyah, a SAR 64bn development project, is a 7sq km mixed-use historic, culture and lifestyle destination. Diriyah will become the Kingdom’s historic and cultural heart, proudly showcasing to the world Saudi Arabia’s more than 300 years of history through an engaging and inspiring set of heritage, hospitality, education, retail and dining experiences for residents, tourists and frequent visitors. The new development north-west of Riyadh is centred around the UNESCO World Heritage Site of At-Turaif. So far 14 international hotel brands have been confirmed, and it is expected at completion there will be 38 in total. The new global landmark, Diriyah, will be created in a Najdi architectural style and showcase authentic Saudi Arabian environments. The historic town of Diriyah will be transformed into a global tourism destination with its main anchors rooted in its historic culture and heritage. Ultimately, the destination will include museums, galleries, restaurants, retail experiences, public squares, hotels, multiple recreational spaces, residences, educational institutions and offices.

2.effectsResult copy
Times Square, Port Said, Egypt
Developer: GV Group

A major scheme by developer GV Group is the revolutionary Times Square project in Egypt which is situated at the heart of Port Said, one of the most important cities and ports in the world and at 31,500sq m, the scheme is being designed to become the city’s new central hub. The development will feature multiple experiences in one place including Times Residence which is where the smart homes of Times Square will be delivered and fully finished with central AC and a rich diversity of areas catered to customer’s needs. In addition there will be Times Premiere, which will be fully furnished hotel apartment units, Times Towers which is the business hub that will be fully equipped to meet business needs with the latest technology, facilities and services and Times Hotel, a cozy business-orientated hotel that will be situated on the main street. Finally, the Times Mall will be a design masterpiece that houses a variety of retail shops, cinemas, entertainment and exquisite F&B experiences, all created with care for individuals’ and families’ enjoyment.

Transilvania Smart City, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Developer: SDC Imobiliare

Local developer SDC Imobiliare, along with overseas investment funds, has launched what they claim to be the biggest real estate project in Romania. The Transilvania Smart City mixed-use, estimated to require an investment of €700M, would see the construction of 10,000 apartments, a shopping centre, schools, supermarkets, a hotel and an aparthotel, office space, parks, and conference rooms in Cluj-Napoca. Work on the project began construction last month. The entire project will be built on a plot of 35ha on a hill close to the Iulius Mall shopping centre. The project’s first stage will be developed on 3ha of land and will include 800 apartments, an aparthotel, nursery, shops, cafes, restaurants, a gym, a bank, a Lidl store and a park. The construction work for this first stage is expected to be completed in 18-24 months. The shopping centre, which will be developed in a later stage, will have an area of 100,000sq m.

Nivy mall in Bratislava, a new shopping centre developed by HB Reavis that also includes the city’s new international bus terminal welcomed almost 330,000 visitors in the first week following the centre’s opening on 30 September. With 130,000sq m of GLA, the multifunctional project is part of the Nivy zone in Bratislava, certified with BREEAM Communities at the Excellent level. It was developed by HB Reavis as a multifunctional modern city district totalling 23ha of land in a former (brownfield) area neighbouring Bratislava’s Old Town. Almost 90 per cent of the 70,000sq m shopping centre is now taken, and the mix of stores includes a number of famous international brands. The project includes a 3,000sq m dining area and a 12,000sq m green roof, divided into several recreational areas, including a 500m running track, two workout zones, functional terraces and a playground.

St James Quarter, Edinburgh, UK
Developer: Nuveen

Launched in June of last year, St James Quarter in Edinburgh is truly one of the most ambitious and world-leading developments to have been launched in the UK in recent times. The 1.7 million square foot development is a new retail-led lifestyle district that both enhances and integrates Edinburgh’s city centre to provide an inspiring, attractive, and vibrant destination for locals and visitors to live, shop, eat, sleep and play. St James Quarter is transforming the city’s east end and is also home to a number of Scottish debuts, including brands such as Coach, & Other Stories, Stradivarius, Bershka and Pull&Bear, Duck & Waffle, SUSHISAMBA, The Alchemist and the one-of-a-kind Bonnie & Wild Food Hall. St James Quarter also hosts Edinburgh’s first Everyman Cinema, and completing the picture is the W Edinburgh, a name internationally renowned in the hotel business, which sits at the very heart of the quarter.

Bankside Yards, London, UK
Developer: Native Land

A £2.5bn regeneration project on London’s South Bank, Bankside Yards is the first major mixed-use estate in the UK to be fossil-fuel-free. With sustainability and wellness at its core, the project brings residential, offices, retail, leisure, a hotel and cultural space to a strategic brownfield site, alongside several acres of new public spaces which support biodiversity. Stunningly designed new buildings nestle with historic railway arches, which will be restored and fully accessible. This will mean that for the first time in 150 years, London’s South Bank and Bankside will be connected, creating a continuous cultural strip along the Thames. Currently set to complete in 2024, the project is being developed by Native Land and it is set to become London’s definitive cultural neighbourhood.