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40 (135) 2019
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Real Estate & Construction

Food and Place

By Robert Kaminski, director of Warsaw Studio, Broadway Malyan
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Technology has fundamentally disrupted the retail sector.

The advent of smartphones has allowed people to rapidly shop for whatever they want or need, whenever they want or need it. Shopping now comes to the consumer.

However, people still need to go out to socialise, meet and spend their leisure time. This has been the case for time immemorial and is unlikely to change any time soon.

One of the necessities that continue to bring people together is food; designers are constantly being challenged to create integrated food environments that respond to the realities of the new consumer.

The starting point today for a food offer within a retail environment starts at 30% of gross leaseable area, emphasising the importance of food to the wider customer experience and reinforcing food as a critical anchor for any successful retail development.

But for a food offer to succeed it must embrace three key tenets – the food must be inventive and original, the location needs profile and the design must be engaging, resonant and unique – take one element away and the offer is likely to fail.

Design alone is not enough on its own without the right food, and the right food won’t work in the wrong environment.

Earlier this year saw the launch of Galeria Mlociny, one of Poland’s largest shopping centres. Broadway Malyan was commissioned by the centre’s owners EPP and Echo Investment following a competition to design a 6,000m2 food court.

Broadway Malyan’s approach was to consider Galeria Mlociny as a response to evolving lifestyles, rather than seeing the centre as a traditional mall.

Retail is in a metamorphic state and the traditional food court is evolving into food halls and market places – harking back to the market halls of days gone by, but reinterpreted as gastro-destinations.

At Galeria Mlociny we wanted to create something unlike anything else in Warsaw. We wanted to create a place that was intriguing and memorable, a place that would attract appropriate food operators and a place where people wanted to come back to again and again.

The consumer has become so much more sophisticated and more travelled with all the information they need at their fingertips. Consumers have immediate access to every review and recommendation – so when it comes to food, ordinary is just no longer viable.

People want genuine authenticity – they don’t want a coffee or pizza or a burger, they want the coffee, pizza or burger. They are no longer prepared to tolerate the ordinary when at the touch of a button they can summon up the extraordinary.

At Galeria Mlociny there are three different zones with seating for up to 1,500 diners and 36 different food outlets, offering the kind of choice you might find in London’s Borough Market or Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg,

The quality of the food offer is clearly critical to Galeria Mlociny’s success but creating an environment that helped build its profile and image, that made it a destination where people didn’t just want to be but wanted to be seen to be was also an important aspect of our approach.

As designers we are looking to create spaces and places that offer that often intangible but well-understood instagrammable moment. There isn’t an algorithm for this but relies on an understanding of the modern consumer and their emotions.

To tap into these emotions it is important that a space talks to the consumer, is recognisable and welcoming and so the main inspirations for the different zones in the food area were Bielany, a district of Warsaw associated with greenery, a place of rest and entertainment which has been popular for picnics, festival and feasts since the 17th century, and Huta Warszawa, a district synonymous with the steel industry since the end of World War Two.

The first of the three spaces – Karuzela – is the invitation to the main food area and includes a series of striking copper-clad ribbed cages for diners that overhang the main atrium and retail area and a swarm of bespoke light fixtures entice customers as they travel up the escalator. This zone is inspired by the local Bielany feasts, and serves as a family zone with a wide choice of popular restaurants within a vivid but relaxed atmosphere.

The second zone – Dechy na Bielanach - evokes a more homely and informal atmosphere and is more focused on leisure and younger customers with neon lights and graffiti by Polish and Portuguese artists. Within this zone there is an unusual seating solution inspired by games like Minecraft where young people can freely choose their relaxed spot to eat.

This zone also has a wine bar and two gastronomy units that face inwards and also outside to an 2,300m2 outside terrace which has been divided into a garden zone with more than 1,500 shrubs and trees and a hard landscaped terrace, ideal as a meeting area in the day and for events and concerts at night, as well as a children’s playground.   

The third space – Hala Hutnik - is more industrial in its look and feel, with rough concrete, simple furniture, steel cladding and colours that evoke the drama of the ovens and furnaces of the steelworks while the food offer in this zone is more focused on modern tastes such as fusion, vegan food and craft beers.

When it comes to creating fantastic food environments, there is no standard solution – each location demands a bespoke response.

As well as a stimulating design, it also needs a layout that functions properly. It needs to dictate the right customer flow, provide the optimum amount of seating for the right atmosphere, while also ensuring that more prosaic issues such as food delivery and disposal are taken care of. All this helps to underpin a successful design.

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