Object / Retail / Canberra / 2020

Canberra Centre Mall Seating

A mall-wide, purpose-designed and crafted mall seating strategy with human interactions and placemaking at its core

Project Overview

  • Project Canberra Centre Mall Seating
  • Location Canberra
  • Year 2020
  • Category Object / Retail
  • Materials Brass, concrete (GFRC), Corian, leather and terrazzo

This project provides a context-driven, purpose-designed and crafted mall seating solution with human interactions and placemaking at its core. Embedded considerations regarding comfort, durability and biophilic principles build on the existing Canberra Centre narrative, elevating the customer experience with in-built moments that facilitate interactions between people, place and technology.

Canberra Centre is comprised of a rich tapestry of interconnected malls and precincts, each with an inherently distinct aesthetic, atmosphere and materiality. Our design imperative was to realise two seemingly competing agendas: Embrace this diversity and respond to each of the eight sites across the centre with site-specific design propositions whilst ensuring a unifying common thread subtly unites the interventions across each of the sites.

Design Process

The design process began with a thorough analysis of each site, plotting the existing inventory and the qualitative & spatial experiences against the desired functional requirements and broader aspirations for each precinct. Informed by the base building architecture, we devised key design strategies (of form-making, refined materiality, textural articulation, craftsmanship and human-scale design) wholly ingrained in each piece's design and detailing, strengthening the dialogue between furniture and context.

All pieces were designed for comfort, durability and ease of maintenance. High back padded seats, tall brass screens (with climbing and cascading plants) that act as a buffer for passers-by and a fully integrated suite of amenities including armrests, side tables, USB charging stations and waste reciprocals elevate the amenity level through unexpected touchpoints. Brass, concrete (GFRC), Corian, leather and terrazzo echo the centre's robust, sophisticated materiality.

Shifting the paradigm

Demanding critical engagement and consideration across a multitude of scales, we zoomed in from the mall scale (spanning several city blocks) down to the minutia of the user experience (like stitch & weld details and pre-emptively rusticating 'at-risk' edges in high traffic zones).

The intervention represents a decisive shift from the typical mall furniture paradigm that calls for short lifespan single-use solutions to an adaptable, scalable, and ultimately more sustainable model.

Each piece is comprised of a set of modularised components that can be arranged in various configurations. Components are easily dismantled and swapped out for maintenance, reconfiguration or replacement. Coupled with highly durable surface finishes designed to patina and proudly wear the marks of use, we expect a longer than average lifespan for each of the units, giving rise to a more sustainable outcome.

Modular, adaptable & scalable

Through design, we sought to transition from the traditionally temporal, ephemeral aspects of the mall experience into permanent artefacts that speak to the architecture in which they're housed. The intervention challenges the norms typically associated with mall furniture, by favouring site-specific, long lifespan, modular, adaptable, scalable – and by extension more sustainable - pieces in place of single-use solutions.