Ripley Town Centre sets benchmark for sustainable retail design

As the online retail industry continues to grow, traditional brick and mortar stores are having to adapt and change the way they engage with their surrounding community. For many retail centres, this has meant moving away from being merely a shopping destination to becoming a social hub.

The new Ripley Town Centre, designed by ThomsonAdsett, has achieved just that – creating a gathering place for the community through its design.

For the project’s developers Sekisui House, this meant creating a place where people can connect, and which supports the community through multi-purpose spaces. Senior Development Manager at Sekisui House, Taku Hashimoto believes that in today’s retail environment, shopping centres are having to become part of the community.

“Shopping centres have now become iconic community hubs rather than purely just retail spaces,” Hashimoto says.

“As developers, it’s important to create a space where people can gather. A good example of a gathering space is an indoor or outdoor area which people can use at different times for different functions. This is something we were passionate about achieving with Ripley Town Centre.”

A key feature of the project is an indoor/outdoor area known as Satoyama Way, which includes a moving water feature and bountiful greenery.

The space is based on the Japanese concept of ‘satoyama’ – an environment which integrates nature and the man-made environment. The design utilises natural light and fresh air to minimise energy costs – allowing the project to achieve a 5-star Green Star rating.

The project has achieved some impressive sustainability outcomes through its focus on environmental design. The use of large solar panels, that double as car park shading, generate 75 per cent of the electricity for the building. These panels have helped to achieve an 81 per cent reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions compared to a standard practice building.

For Hashimoto, working with architects ThomsonAdsett to build these concepts into the design from the outset was paramount.

“We worked back and forth with ThomsonAdsett to explore environmental design concepts,” he says.

“We talked extensively about the long-term future of the project. We wanted the project to extend through the town centre in the future.”

ThomsonAdsett and Sekisui House are continuing their collaboration as the project moves into stage two of the design, with plans for a connected seniors living and health precinct as part of the Centre’s expansion.

Photography by Christopher Frederick Jones