OMA is designing a 10,000-square-metre shopping center integrated with community spaces in Melbourne, Australia. Entitled the Wollert Neighborhood Centre, the project is located in Wollert, Whittlesea, one of Victoria’s fastest-growing regions, in the suburbs of Melbourne.
Conceived as social infrastructure, the Wollert Neighborhood Center is “a place for communal experience where retail and social interaction weigh equal”. While existing community activity centers on their own are often underutilized, OMA created a project, centered around health and wellbeing, that caters to commercial and community needs. Developed by Sandhurst Retail, the project led by OMA’s Regional Director Paul Jones will put together retail and community spaces, including a central public courtyard, amenity spaces, and childcare and education facilities to create a place for a communal experience.
Suburban shopping centers are often places for pure consumption. […] Existing community activity centers in Wollert’s surrounding areas, separated from retail programs, are often underutilized. They fail to bring the community together. Our design weaves together retail, amenity and cultural spaces for use by people in the community with different needs. It will be a social condenser in the area. -- Paul Jones, OMA’s Regional Director
At the heart of the project, a shaded courtyard and an amphitheater generate “a space for curated community events and daily activities, encouraging residents in Wollert and neighboring suburbs to spend time in the Centre and engage with each other”. With an accessible roof, the design creates more possibilities for spatial configurations. Sports, education and urban agriculture can, therefore, be implemented in these spaces. For retail, vertical stripes house amenity spaces, facilities for children, and well-being-focused retail offerings.
Single-level parking at ground level, also used as an additional outdoor public amenity space, is separated from the pedestrian-friendly northern façade, “while offering clearly-defined routes connected to the center’s multiple entrances”. Designed as a civic landmark, the center is connected to the existing transportation systems and directly linked to the greater Melbourne area.
OMA is interested in the vastness of urban development in the present time and its implications on both the urban environment and the rural. The design for the Wollert Neighbourhood Centre indicates how architects and planners can look at new communities at the fringe of urbanity and the countryside in the Australian context. -- David Gianotten, OMA’s Managing Partner
Imagined as the central element of a potential masterplan, creating a mixed-use area for the suburb, with residential and commercial programs, the center’s conceptual design is being reviewed by local planning authorities, and construction works are expected to start in 2023.
We have engaged one of the most well-recognized architecture firms in the world to ensure this Wollert Town Centre is a state-of-the-art facility that will benefit all stakeholders, retailers and of course, residents, which is testament to our vision of creating places for communities to connect, explore and engage. OMA’s greatest strength is in rethinking strategies and approaches from first principles while avoiding preconceived solutions and approaches – they are the perfect team to collaborate with while we explore new ways of delivering growth-area retail. -- Vivek Subramanian, Sandhurst Retail director
Wollert Neighbourhood Centre, Whittlesea
- Status: Concept Design submitted for local planning approval
- Client: Sandhurst Retail
- Location: Whittlesea
- Site: 3.3 hectares
- Program: Mixed-Use Community and Retail Centre
- Regional Director: Paul Jones
- Project Architect: Clare Johnston
- Team: Fedor Medek, Marcus Parviainen
- Supervising Partner: David Gianotten
- Project Manager: Case Meallin