The democratisation of design

By Joanna Russell and Susanne Pini of HDR

The design of a community’s built form should inspire pride among locals. Shopping centres are no exception, but most get it wrong. Susanne Pini of HDR and Joanna Russell of Frasers Property look at why this is - and what must change.

  • 01

    What’s wrong?

    The generic design of most shopping centres results in physical and cultural isolation. A radical shift is needed.

  • 02

    Why now?

    TV shows have elevated design in the public conscious and this democratisation of design means there’s nowhere to hide.

  • 03

    What’s the plan?

    Retail centres should be a natural part of the townscape, designed from a whole-of-neighbourhood perspective.

“Obesity, loneliness and social isolation are all outcomes of the suburban life we created when we turned our suburbs into dormitories. We lost the ‘social glue’ as we stripped our suburbs of anywhere for the community to socialise. Our focus needs to be on creating places that are walkable and communal. The retail centres of tomorrow need to connect the community together and be an integral part of our ‘everyday’, part of our ‘ordinary’.”

Susanne Pini, National Director of Retail and Mixed-Use, HDR


One of the country’s leading mixed-use architects says you can count on one hand the number of neighbourhood centres in Australia with the capacity to play the social infrastructure role expected of them today.

HDRPrincipal and National Director of Retail and Mixed-Use Susanne Pini says the generic design of existing neighbourhood shopping centres results in physical and cultural isolation. A radical shift needs to take place, she says.

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