Monaro Mall, Canberra Centre redevelopment. Photo: Tom Ross

Monaro Mall, Canberra Centre

The redevelopment of Monaro Mall by Universal Design Studio and Mather Architecture pays its respects to the mid-century modernist beginnings of Australia’s first fully enclosed shopping mall. Listed for more than thirty years on the ACT register of significant twentieth century architecture, Whitehead and Payne Architects’ 1963 Mall had been obscured by multiple renovations and overshadowed by the expansion of the Canberra Centre in which it resides.

An ambitious project, the practice team has successfully and sensitively restored, revealed, reinstated and reimagined Monaro Mall’s heritage values, intent and finishes. Monaro Mall is now a light-filled and material-rich contemporary retail transformation which demonstrates the powerful potential of adaptive reuse of heritage buildings over demolition.

Externally, the Bunda Street and Petrie Plaza façades borrow from the beautiful and fortunately still intact David Jones entry on City Walk. With a nod to the earlier significance of the Mall, the public realm has been activated with large format windows, street facing shops and cafes and the thoughtful restoration of original marble, breeze blocks and mosaics. Elegant arched awnings have been reinstated and new gold soffits and up-lighting introduce a contemporary finish.

At the recent 2018 Australian Institute of Architects awards (ACT Branch) Monaro Mall by Universal Design Studio and Mather Architecture won the top awards for heritage and interior architecture, as well awards for commercial architecture and light in architecture.

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