Agora is a collective space for Brisbane based businesses who cannot survive in the current retail market due to high rent prices and the rise of e-commerce. This innovative retail model takes inspiration from the historical ‘Agora of Athens’, which was the centre of all activity in the city. The proposed design is a space for the community of millennials to gather together in all forms, not just retail. The space is an umbrella brand for a range of local, sustainable businesses who cannot survive in the current retail market.
This innovative retail model is achieved by online brands paying a monthly fee to rent shelf space in store. Agora staffs, runs and maintains the store, meaning businesses have little to no commitment, yet still benefit from having their product displayed in a physical space. Shared hospitality spaces are provided for local brewers, barristers, bakers, chefs etc. to use on a weekly or monthly basis. Furthermore, the space is constantly changing, providing users with a new experience each time they visit. Co-working spaces are provided for business owners to collaborate with one another and work together, rather than as competitors.
The design is located at Post Office Square in Brisbane CBD. The site shows similarities to the original Agora of Athens through its central location and purpose of being ‘the heart of the city’. Curved design language draws inspiration from a mapping analysis of the original Agora of Athens. Minimalistic materials and finishes create ties to the precinct and its history. This neutral pallet seamlessly fits into the urban landscape, allowing the products on offer to be highlighted and enhanced. A central void and interactive skylights connect the two levels of the site to inspire socialisation and connection between millennial users.
The retail zone is designed to draw user’s attention towards the individual products through feature lighting and minimalist materials. Stock is not categorised by product, but rather as a mixture of stock from different brands in groupings of what would compliment each other – whether it be homewares, apparel or beauty products. This creates collaboration and inspires brands to work together, rather than as competitors.
Display units are spread throughout the whole space to inspire users to meander through the space to see everything on offer. Curved design language inspired by Agora map. 3 Varieties of display unit clusters have been designed for the space with varying sizes.
Typical lounge spaces are located in various areas throughout space – provides areas for socialisation and relaxation. Lounges can be used for socialisation, eating, work or to take a break.
A feature display unit surrounds the main counter. Timber poles with adjustable height shelves are used. The display unit can be seen through the water and skylight from park above – this inspires connection between the two levels. Symmetry and repetition of timber poles is inspired by Greek column design. A light which reads “see you soon” is seen from both levels – inspires people in park to come down and shop & inspires people making a purchase to come back again soon.
Customisable pods used for local artisan businesses on weekly or monthly basis. Inspired by market places and acts as an extension of the retail space. Possible options include local brands focussing on handcrafts, specific food/ beverage, florists etc. These add an extra element to the co-retailing business model, where all hospitality and retail within the space is constantly changing. It gives small hospitality brands or local small batch manufactures a chance to gain recognition with little to no commitment.
The coffee nook is used for local baristas and speciality coffee roasters to sell their product. Various custom bench seating spaces surround the hospitality zone.
The bar space is used by local beer brewers, wine makers, cocktail mixers etc. to display their local Brisbane product.
Co working spaces are open to be used by business owners involved with the Agora. This space is vital to creating collaboration between brands and allowing business owners to work together rather than as competitors. These spaces are seen from all areas of the floor plan – highlighting the importance of the business owners to the users, enhancing the ideas of locality and small business.
Colour and lighting is used to create a large contrast between the rest of the space and the co working zones. User’s attention is drawn here to watch a “hive of activity”. Linear boxes with blue glass and LED lighting create a boxed effect as if users as seeing “behind the scenes” of the products being displayed in store.
The central void acts as a connection between the two levels – improving foot traffic on level 1 and enhancing activity on level 2. The void is designed to draw users from level 1 to the park above, and entice users in the park down.
Level 2 has been planned to continue its purpose as an urban green space. However, the design of this level creates a community space for millennials to connect with one another. Sunken lounges will scatter the level, along with a stage for local buskers to perform and a community herb garden – all elements designed to create a sense of community and connection. Neutral materials and finishes are used to ensure the space seamlessly blends into the urban landscape. No design elements are upwards from the ground to maintain and uninterrupted view from GPO to Post Office Square.
Sunken lounges scatter the level, designed to create a sense of community and connection between millennial users. Sunken lounges cut into the 800mm thick ground below, to ensure they do not interfere with the view from GPO to Anzac Square – maintaining an uninterrupted view is essential for the brief. These lounges gives users a space to relax, reflect and interact with others.
At the base of each sunken lounge area is a custom shaped QR code to match the branding of the site. The words “SCAN ME” sit next to the emblem to prompt users to scan the image with their phones. When scanned, the user will be taken to an augmented reality where they can move their phone around the park and they will see the displays units from level 1 appear to be on level 2. There is also an option to go to the Agora app, where you can browse what brands and hospitality is being displayed on level 1 at that time. You can also order food and beverage from the app to have delivered up to the park.
After completing a Bachelor of Interior Design with a second major in Graphic Design, Tiana has developed a strong passion for creating spaces that are holistic in nature and can positively impact its user. She combines her interior design skills with her passion for branding and graphics to create cohesive spaces that convey strong concepts through all aspects of the design.