Inside the architecture of the new Rundle Mall Plaza, H & M store

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By Melissa Keogh

Aspects in the design of the $40m Rundle Mall Plaza redevelopment featuring an H & M store will be a “standout” and will help reawaken a somewhat tired precinct along Adelaide’s premier retail strip.

Brand SA News caught up with one of the contributors to the four-storey redevelopment, Hames Sharley’s managing director Caillin Howard, for an insight into this retail and infrastructure coup.

Caillin, who has been with the Adelaide-based multidisciplinary design firm for almost 20 years, says the plaza revamp is one of Hames Sharley’s most exciting projects.

“Rundle Mall Plaza isn’t one of our biggest projects at the moment, but is it our favourite at the moment? Absolutely, because of its complexity, because it sits in the middle of the CBD, because it’s not just about retail,” he says.

“It has the ability to touch the most people in Adelaide, therefore it’s a pretty special project.”

Concept imagery of the plaza redevelopment.

Rundle Mall Plaza’s owner, The Weinert Group, announced the redevelopment plans in February, saying the addition of the Swedish fashion giant H & M would be a “significant drawcard for Rundle Mall in particular but Adelaide in general”.

While H & M will be the plaza’s major tenant, the redevelopment spans across four lower levels of the nine-storey building.

The lower ground is expected to become a ‘tech hub’ with offices and co-working spaces, while the ground floor will be dedicated to retail and fashion.

A new, higher-end dining precinct will unfold on level one, with large glass windows overlooking the mall, while a health and wellbeing precinct is envisaged for level two.

A multi-storey void at the main entrance will be a “standout architectural feature” and will host the relocated Progress statue, a welder copper sculpture created by Lyndon Dadswell in 1959.

The refurbished iconic Progress statue will mark the entrance to the plaza.

Caillin says the redevelopment presents a chance for the plaza to take better advantage of its Rundle Mall frontage as well as its activation with Gawler Place and the Myer Centre.

He says the higher-end dining precinct will also give shoppers and nearby workers another option to a unique dining experience able to be enjoyed within an office lunch break.

“You don’t have to have a burger, souvlaki, or sushi in a food court when you’re in that retail mall,” he says.

“You can go and have great fish and chips or great Italian and have a turnaround of 40 minutes rather than going to a café or restaurant.

“Adelaide has heaps of them (cafés and restaurants) and they’re brilliant, but you have to put aside an hour-and-a-half to do it.”

The dining precinct on level one will offer views over Rundle Mall.

Rundle Mall Plaza is just one of the many projects that Hames Sharley’s Adelaide team of 45 is working on, with the Cedar Woods housing development at Glenside among other ventures.

Its portfolio includes the design collaborations on the Adelaide Oval redevelopment and the University of Adelaide’s Braggs building, as well as the Channel Seven studios on Port Road, the Whyalla Hospital, Elizabeth Aquadome, and the West Lakes and Gilles Plains shopping centres.

Caillin says Hames Sharley prides itself on delivering “contextual architecture” by taking into consideration the impact of a building on its surroundings.

“We believe that architecture has a responsibility to answer to its city, site or location, so we have as much responsibility to give back as to take,” he says.

While born in SA, Caillin undertook his secondary and tertiary education in Perth, where he joined Hames Sharley in 1999.

Hames Sharley collaborated with BVN Donovan Hill on the design of The University of Adelaide’s award-winning science and research facility, The Braggs Building.

Hames Sharley is listed as one of the 100 largest design practices in the world and has offices in every capital city across Australia. It was established in Adelaide more than 40 years ago.

With a grandfather as a builder and a father as an architect, entering the world of design was almost inevitable for Caillin, also a keen cricketer and yachtsman.

Stepping up to the role of managing director in 2014, he says there is no shortage of leading architecture and design companies in Adelaide.

“When you have a look at the large practices across the country, I think over 50% of them started in Adelaide,” he says.

“There’s us, Woods Bagot, Hassell, all of these big players who originated out of Adelaide.

“For me, geographically, Adelaide is a great place to be … we have great education and really smart people.

“It’s a really good place to centrally locate the business.”

Rundle Mall Plaza redevelopment is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

Visit I Choose SA for Industry to learn more stories about key industry leaders, why they’ve chosen SA as a base and how the state is enabling them to succeed.

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