MELBOURNE, Australia — The retail landscape has changed dramatically over the last decade. According to Bain & Company, online sales are expected to climb from 7 percent to 20 percent of global luxury consumption by 2025. However, as e-commerce increasingly liberates consumers from the need to enter stores or even leave their homes to shop, physical retail is also evolving. Responding to its changing market, Australian mall operator QIC Global Real Estate, which manages a portfolio of circa 50 commercial properties in Australia and the USA, focuses on adding value for its consumers through the built environment they shop in, pivoting its offering to fit their growing preferences for experiences, be it in wellness, hospitality or other growth areas.
A pioneer in porous design, QIC GRE has previously revitalised the communities around its developments by funding libraries and town squares, removing the barriers between public space and private development. However, its newest and most ambitious project is situated on Melbourne’s prestigious Collins Street. Adapting to this urban environment, QIC GRE has adopted a “hyper-local” strategy, which seeks to elevate Melburnian culture for an international audience while fostering a local community through layered experiences.
BoF sits down with QIC Global Real Estate director of investment management Stuart Miller to learn more about a retail development that doubles as a cultural precinct.
How does 80 Collins reflect QIC GRE’s response to shifting consumer behaviour?
Our newest development really does epitomise our approach to retail and placemaking. It draws upon a global perspective, while truly understanding a neighbourhood and its community. It is a hyper-local strategy and the antithesis of homogeneity. As consumers increasingly gravitate toward destinations that
cater to more than one facet of their life needs and interests, 80 Collins brings together a diverse collection of experiences for them. It is the first QIC GRE development to desegregate the boundaries between commercial office space, retail, wellness and hospitality. It represents our future vision for placemaking and design by aggregate experiences.
Why are cultural partnerships so important to this project?
Melbourne is home to a thriving cultural landscape and some of Australia’s leading creative minds in art and design. It’s the country’s cultural capital and art permeated every facet of our decision making for the space, from development right through to completion. We are working with curators who will literally thread art and cultural experiences into the building, creating more expressive, engaging and inspiring environments.
With 80 Collins we wanted to elevate the local experience to an international audience — without losing an authentic connection to the city. Whether its retail therapy, art-appreciation, lunch and dinner, or a glass of wine after work, 80 Collins offers multiple opportunities for visitors and residents to dwell in the space. The result will be an extraordinary, sustainable and fluid neighbourhood. The layering of experiences available at 80 Collins allows us to provide the sort of connection and change in pace that this community craves.
We are working with curators who will literally thread art and cultural experiences into the building, creating more expressive, engaging and inspiring environments.
How does 80 Collins specifically reflect Melburnian culture?
Doing our best to pay tribute to the existing food culture of Melbourne, our vision is to showcase artistry in food and wine in everything from lunch or coffee on the go for the commercial office worker, to exquisite fine dining for the local or international visitor hoping to linger over new and interesting culinary experiences. As dining culture continues to emerge as a dominant force in the curation of built environments, we were also inherently aware of its ability to ground and extend a retail experience, particularly in a city like Melbourne, which has always fostered creativity and innovation in the food and hospitality space.
How did you approach designing an urban project of this scale?
We’re collaborating with some of the most talented architects and designers in the world. We hope to have designed a destination that not only stands alone, but also one that connects with the area’s eminent landmarks and cultural institutions, celebrating all that is quintessentially Melburnian. Each facet of the building is a response to its distinctive and individual street frontage. For example, on Little Collins Street, there is a sense of much smaller, intimate scale, while the Collins Street frontage taps into the grandeur of the vicinity and its footprint in culture, commerce and luxury. The three streets each have their own individual character and identity.
Locally, we worked with architects Seventhwave and Woods Bagot, and abroad with international firms UN Studio in Amsterdam, Jouin Manku in Paris, as well as Futurecity and Pace Gallery in London, all of which are renowned for delivering a pioneering approach to commissioning art in the public realm. From a commercial perspective, 80 Collins will provide more than 90,000 square metres of premium office space for Australian and international financial consulting and advisory firms.
What impact does 80 Collins have on the environment around it?
The porousness of 80 Collins is perhaps its most unique feature, and one that has closely considered the flow of people throughout the space, both day and night, weekday and weekend. Firstly, the building acts as a gateway for the city’s east end, connecting people to a district already dotted by highly awarded restaurants, luxury retail flagships and eminent cultural institutions. Secondly, 80 Collins will stand alone as a precinct in and of itself where guests can work, dine, play and stay all in one location. Importantly, it will contribute a 24-hour economy to the area, adapting and evolving from day to night. A curated programme of art will further enliven the precinct, a response to the vibrant culture that surrounds it, sparking a new interplay between people and ideas, performance and participation.