Work on Homebush’s Direct Factory Outlet (DFO) is slated to finish this month, giving Sydneysiders a new precinct to shop and play.

Global firm The Buchan Group is behind the architecture, design, graphics and signage of the $100 million-plus facelift, which includes a centre upgrade and new Homemaker component.

The firm was appointed in 2012 by CFS Retail Property Trust Group (CFX) to redesign DFO in a way that combines traditional retail with lifestyle in a space where experience counts.

The customer-centric design will reveal a new interconnected layout with a new large format retail level and food court precinct, spanning a total site area of 17,400 square metres. DFO is located just 15 kilometres from the Sydney CBD and will also include two food courts and five vertically integrated levels of shopping and parking.

The car parking, which will add space for an additional 800 cars, has also been strategically implemented to support shopper convenience and improve the centre’s traffic movement.

According to The Buchan Group, the new layout will allow customers to navigate through retail and breakout zones while enjoying “stimulating outdoor views of parks, sky and natural light.”

Central skylight maximises daylighting

Central skylight maximises daylighting

Buchan Group principal Nathan Hones said the centre’s design concepts reinforced the centre’s modern factory outlet concept and identity.

“A significant design inclusion to rejuvenate the DFO brand and its luxury retailers includes the use of contemporary yet industrial colours in the specialty retail and new homemaker component, which complements the existing DFO level and offering to customers,” he said.

“Polished silver shopfronts for the Premium Mall area take the retail character to a whole new level.”

The upgrade will also maximise day lighting as a source of illumination for the centre, a growing trend in alternative lighting across new retail design.

“Standout features include the mall’s central skylight and the vertical glass box at the northern end of the complex, which floods the food precincts with natural light, drawing parallels with the customer’s connection to the natural surroundings to establish a relaxed eating experience,” said Hones.

The Buchan Group’s vertical design concept is similar to that used in its recently completed project Emporium Melbourne in the heart of the CBD. Emporium Melbourne’s pedestrian-friendly navigation, voluminous space and natural light have removed the closed-in feel and compactness generally associated with indoor retail centres.

Hones said the new outlets utilise less energy than conventional retail centres due to open warehouse spaces, limited ceiling features and shared mechanical systems.

Emporium Melbourne's Vertical Design

Emporium Melbourne

Ventilation is also a key consideration, and carbon dioxide sensors have been installed in the outlet’s car park to monitor the building’s air quality output.

The Buchan Group’s approach to DFO design demonstrates the growing trend in many shopping centres as they move away from enclosed malls to centre spaces that serve lifestyle and connect with nature via daylight, greenery and fresh air.

Kirsty Máté, senior lecturer, School of Architecture & Design, University of Tasmania completed a research study last year where she explored the opportunity for Australian shopping centre design to move away from convention and toward “experience centres.”

“The Australian shopping centre adapted for ethical consumption behaviour is likely to be a more diverse and integrative mix of services, products and light industry supported by technologies and information services that provide current transparent information on products and brands,” Máté noted.

“While these features are directly related to consumer behaviours and their impact on shopping centre design, indirectly the ethical consumer will also be concerned with packaging, transport and the efficiency of the shopping centre itself as it relates to energy and water consumption for example.”

“In themselves these will also have a considerable impact for the future survival of the Australian shopping centre.”

The Buchan Group expect that the DFO upgrade will be completed later this month.