Creating and curating connected communities lies at the heart of Stockland’s approach to placemaking. Committed to a holistic, collaborative approach that encompasses first nations knowledge, understanding the unique characteristics of each precinct to make meaningful, positive and long-lasting differences.
We spoke with Stockland expert, Sarah Neilsen, General Manager of Placemaking, about how we are carefully curating our Retail Town Centres to create a sense of place and placemaking through purposeful, engaging and sustainable experiences.
We understand that as our town centres continue to evolve and progress alongside the changing needs of the community, consideration of how these progressions will strengthen the connection between people and place – creating and curating a better future – is more important than ever before.
“We have long-worked to improve communities by reimagining our shopping centres in innovative and people-centric ways, to bring people together and make them feel special and valued,” says Sarah.
“By understanding what makes our communities tick, why people visit our retail centres, and what they do when they are there, we are well placed to create vibrant and activated centres delivering on customer expectations.
“When we think about that community perspective, it’s about how we engage with social sustainability. We are always thinking about how we can use our expertise to promote a cohesive social fabric that is sustainable and connected.
Placemaking more important than ever
Businesses should not be afraid to embrace the shifting trends and increased need for considered placemaking.
Infinite Global’s 2021 report, Post-Pandemic Placemaking, notes several trends shaping the future.
People have become more conscious of the value of shopping in physical spaces, expecting more experiences beyond shopping, to include dining, entertainment and activities.
Likely, the future of retail will be driven by brands and landlords in providing shoppers something compelling which they cannot get online, increasing dwell time in retail destinations.
The Infinite Global’s Post-Pandemic Placemaking report notes, retail’s future will hang on brand strategy and experience, and be human-centric.
This prediction is supported by Red Havas, a global micro-network of merged media agencies, which in its 2022 report, A New Lens on Brand Experience, that says the most important insight that has been uncovered from the pandemic is that the key to building real, lasting relationships between brands and shoppers boils down to our basic need for human-to-human engagement and shared experiences.
More than just shopping
Stockland's Sarah Neilsen Sarah says our Town Centres offer more than just a shopping destination. “They are places for local families and friends to gather, to play and be entertained,” says Sarah. “Fundamentally, people need multiple attractions that are convenient and enjoyable.
“Curated placemaking makes shoppers feel connected and inspired.
“We’re transforming under-utilised areas, bringing streets alive, building box-parks and energising shared spaces to create meaningful experiences that enrich people’s lives as well as drive footfall to our shopping centres,” says Sarah.
Working with the Sunshine Coast Council in 2020, Stockland brought the award-winning NightQuarter to Stockland Birtinya, which has proven one of the area’s most popular food and music destinations.
“The open-air marketplace with its focus on shared experiences, conversation and eating, complements our centre offering and positions the retail precinct as more than just a great place to shop and socialise, but a destination with choice, convenience and entertainment,” says Sarah.
Featuring street food, immersive experiences, regular ticketed live music concerts and seasonal and themed events, NightQuarter has helped to create culture rich opportunities for the community and local venues and reinvigorated the music scene after COVID-19.
Recognising that there is an appetite in the community for artisan and handmade products, Stockland is bringing the marketplace concept in-centre with the launch of a Farmers and Artisan Market at Stockland Glendale. With capacity for 120 locally produced artisanal stalls, the markets support the community while complementing the existing retail mix, driving foot traffic.
A place for everyone
Asked to summarise Stockland’s town centre placemaking ethos, Sarah concluded, “Our purpose at Stockland is really about creating a better way to live by connecting people and places together and creating authentic experiences for our retailers and their customers.”