The changing landscape of shopping malls – from city centre to FLAIR
As the share of retail spending in city centres declines, online retailers have been chalking up the kind of double-digit growth that brick-and-mortar retailers can only dream of. Shopping centres need to evolve if they are to stand any chance of remaining attractive to consumers. Older shopping centres, in particular those that first opened their doors in the 1980s, were built under completely different conditions and now need to almost completely reinvent themselves – a process that has been given an added boost by the coronavirus crisis.
According to the latest market studies, at least half of all German shopping centres are in desperate need of an upgrade – and this will require far more than just a new lick of paint or a handful of cosmetic changes. According to the studies, these shopping centres need to be completely repositioned, not just modernised, and this process should incorporate every single aspect that could have a bearing on the future success of each centre – architecture, retail mix, building technology, accessibility, transport links, parking, branding and interior design.
It is important to first develop a holistic strategy for repositioning a centre. This strategy then needs to be implemented methodically, with constant evaluation and fine-tuning of the insights into strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats gained during the professional project preparation phase.
City-Center Fürth, which first opened its doors on 19 September 1985, is an inner-city shopping centre with 26,000 sqm of lettable space on three retail levels and an underground car park with 535 parking spaces. The centre’s top floors are home to offices, medical practices and apartments, all of which are set around a landscaped inner courtyard.
The centre has always had problems to overcome and these challenges started during construction when some of the construction companies became insolvent. More recently, with the completion of Neue Mitte in the immediate vicinity and C&A’s decision to move away from the area, the shopping centre’s problems came to a head. Several investors registered an interest in the centre, but early efforts to stabilise the property failed due to its complex ownership structure. Eventually, in 2016, the Fürth-based P&P Group succeeded in persuading the total of 351(!) owners to sell.
Based on extensive market analysis, an entirely new concept was developed in 2017/18. as a result, the centre will reopen in September 2021 as FLAIR. The repositioning process put all aspects of the centre under the microscope and, ultimately, it was decided that a complete overhaul was the only viable solution.
In close consultation with the centre’s owner and developer, a new concept – “the city’s living room” – was developed. FLAIR’s interior features warm colours and materials, such as carpet, timber, wallpaper and extensive greenery. Cosy lounge areas and specially designed sofas create a homely ambience – a “home away from home” – allow FLAIR to surprise and excite visitors, inspiring them with new ideas and encouraging them to stroll, enjoy and discover the uniquely designed areas to rest, relax and play.
FLAIR also features a specially designed kids’ zone, a fitness trail and a 27,000-litre aquarium, all of which are set to help establish FLAIR as an attractive social space and popular meeting place in the heart of the city.
Düsseldorf, 7 June 2021
Chapman Taylor is one of the most successful internationally active architectural practices in Europe. The firm was founded in London in 1959 and currently employs more than 480 people in 16 independent offices across Europe, Asia, South and Central America and the Middle East, working on a wide range of projects in more than 90 countries.
Chapman Taylor has been active in Germany since 1994 and opened its Düsseldorf studio in 1997. The Düsseldorf team has been responsible for a large number of development projects in Germany and Eastern Europe. From initial feasibility studies to masterplanning, Chapman Taylor offers a comprehensive range of services for a wide variety of building types – residential, retail, leisure, hospitality, transportation and office – and combines these uses into large-scale mixed-use environments.