Canberra Centre & Monaro Mall

Canberra Centre & Monaro Mall

Universal Design Studio

Mather Architecture
Canberra, Australia | View Map
Année du projet
Centres commerciaux
Histoires par
Universal Design Studio

Mather Architecture

Canberra Centre & Monaro Mall

Universal Design Studio en tant que Architectes.

Retail, public space and landscaping in Canberra, Australia, inspired by the past and redesigned for the future

In a continuing collaboration with Australian retail developer QIC Global Real Estate (QICGRE), Universal Design Studio created the masterplan and detailed designs to restore and revitalize 14,680 sq. m of retail, public space and landscaping in Canberra, Australia, with a new masterplan and newly designed façades, interior architecture and exterior spaces. 


Urban development on this scale begins with a period of listening. For Universal, that meant reengaging with the aspirations of the architect of the original civic masterplan, Walter Burley, whose desire it was to create an optimistic city ‘unlike any other in the world’. Universal’s new design maintained the Ainslie and Monaro Malls’ significance within the public realm but recognised the changing needs of today’s consumers, for whom a retail space is no longer simply about a commoditised shopping experience but better-integrated centres that offer broader civic, cultural and commercial opportunities.


Universal transformed the Monaro Mall from mall to mixed-use retail, redesigning all internal and external QICGRE-owned areas. Entrances were re-modelled, damaged parts of the original Carrara marble façade were restored, and 100-metre linear arched canopies were reintroduced to provide shade for a new parade of shop fronts. On the ground floor, the Beauty Arcade offers 800 sq. m of beauty departments floor and 1,960 sq. m of beauty boutiques. This acknowledges the era of the original building, but feels distinctly crisp and contemporary.


Brands have been encouraged to offer treatments and beauty services alongside conventional retail, whilst customers can choose to peruse the space or browse and buy products and digitally.


By emphasising the civic significance of this landmark project, the remodelled Canberra Centre gives the city and its residents somewhere to meet up and spend time as much as to shop. Most importantly, it restores civic pride in a key public asset, providing a boost for the city of Canberra at both a local and national level.


Material Used :

1. Calcatta Marble – Facade – International Tile agency
2. Calcatta Oro Marble – Flooring – International Tile agency 
3. Bardiglio marble - Flooring – International Tile agency
4. Resin based terrazzo - Flooring - Santa Margherita, London G07
5. Resin based terrazzo - Flooring - Santa Margherita, Arabescato Bianco B106
6. Resin based terrazzo - Flooring - Santa Margherita, Fior de Pesco D125
7. Arabescato Orobico Marble - Flooring & walls - International Tile agency
8. Carrara C marble - Flooring - International Tile agency
9. Jesmonite - Ceiling / void edge - AC730 Forticrete grey 
10. Barrisol - Ceiling - Barrisol 
11. Bardiglio Novulato (honed) - Columns / verticals - International Tile agency
12. Brushed brass - Various - Local contractor
13. Brushed stainless steel - Various - Local contractor
14. Polished stainless steel - Brand portals - Local contractor
15. Brushed aluminum - Feature ceiling - Local contractor
16. Spotted Gum timber - Circulation walls - Local contractor
17. Sonaspray - Ceiling voids - K13 Local contractor
18. LG Hi Macs - VM display - T017 Andromeda Local contractor
19. Kvadrat fabric - Retail space - Time 300 880

Canberra Centre - Monaro Mall

Mather Architecture en tant que Architectes.

Monaro Mall, the oldest section of the Canberra Centre, has been renewed and repositioned as a luxury mall, re-establishing its position as an admired city landmark and retail destination. Originally opened in 1963, it has been much loved and was significant in the development of Canberra. The mall had undergone many changes from its initial built form with little internally remaining. However although the scope of the project was significant, the existing building structure was intentionally retained and the facades of marble and mosaic tile carefully restored.


Celebrating the history of Monaro Mall, the approach to this project was to look back at the city’s post-war modernist influences to inform the new design, reinterpreting them in a contemporary, yet timeless manner. Most prominently, iconic arched awnings have been reinstated with reflective gold soffits and uplighting adding a new sense of luxury. As the nature of retail continues to transform, there is a need to redefine the traditional shopping mall as a civic space, a destination that merges the commercial and the cultural. With iterative market testing and close client collaboration, a mix of retail typologies were explored. An important focus has been on experience, creating distinct precincts that can be uniquely branded and accommodate regular themed events. Street focussed retail with consistent hamper signs and large format shopfront windows and doors with bronze frames form a cohesive streetscape that reactivates the external public realm.


A new double height entry to Petrie Plaza with proportions of civic generosity has been carved out of the building. The internal layout has been reconfigured and the arcades have been straightened and aligned for more successful flow, vertical circulation and mid-block connections between Ainslie Mall, Petrie Plaza and Bunda Street. Arcades are of two scales – the arcade on level one is wider with kiosks and dramatic voids and skylights, while the arcade on the ground floor is more intimate with a feature coffered ceiling. Stone portals and display cases that can be varied in dimension to suit tenant requirements provide visual uniformity and create focus around each open shopfront. The Beauty Garden has been developed on a market typology, where small format tenancies can have short-term leases to encourage new businesses and allow for changing tenancy mixes as the precinct evolves.


Modular stainless steel joinery was designed to make change easy and give coherency to the precinct. With the challenge of urgency in timeframes, documentation was completed simultaneously with the construction and integration of regular changes responding to evolving retail positioning and market needs. The project is a substantial investment in the city. While attentive to the importance of business viability in build cost vs rent acquired over the long term, the project makes a significant civic contribution, setting a new benchmark for quality and attention to detail, and demonstrating the potential for private leadership in heritage custodianship and city revitalisation.


Questions and Answers

How is the project unique?

Monaro Mall is the first fully enclosed, air-conditioned shopping mall in Australia, and is still a part of the primary retail precinct in Canberra. The redeveloped precinct has been reimagined as the beauty and lifestyle destination in Canberra, with its uniform shop frontages taking influence from existing luxury retail precincts such as the Queen Victoria Building and the Strand Arcade, both located in Sydney, Australia.


What key materials were used on the project?

• Modular stainless-steel joinery

• Restored façade mosaic tiles

• Iconic arched awnings with reflective gold soffits

• Italian marble mosaic floor tiling

• Bronze framed windows and doors

• Burnished stone portals to shopfronts

• Precast fibre-cement triangular ceiling panels with custom lighting

• Spotted gum timbre wall clad battens


What were the key challenges?

A building of this type includes the challenge of reconfiguring many years of modifications to the both structure and services, this required a consultant team who thoroughly knew the history of the building to come up with innovative solutions to keep surrounding parts of the building in operation while the project was under construction.


The existing mall was largely internally focussed without access to natural daylight, by uncovering existing skylights this gave us the opportunity to create large dramatic voids, influenced by Canberra’s brutalist history, which introduce light into the retail levels through all three levels. In elevating the existing space to an appropriate standard for the clients vision of a destination retail emporium we look back at the city’s post-war modernist influences to inform the new design, reinterpreting them in a contemporary, yet timeless manner with luxury material and crafted detailing.


What was the brief?

To create a beauty and lifestyle destination within Canberra’s primary retail precinct that brings national and international brands to Canberra and adapt the existing building back to its heritage significance with the employment of luxury materials and detailing to elevate the architecture to suit.


Crédits de projet
Fiche technique du produit

VM display - T017 Andromeda HIMACS - LG HAUSYS EUROPE GMBH
CeilingBarrisol - Normalu Sas
Fabric - Time 300 880Kvadrat
G07, Arabescato Bianco B106, Fior de Pesco D125SANTA MARGHERITA
Fiche technique du produit
VM display - T017 Andromeda
Fabric - Time 300 880
by Kvadrat
G07, Arabescato Bianco B106, Fior de Pesco D125
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