K. A Glasgow shopping centre that inspired a move within airport retail design to match the best of domestic retail has been named Scotland’s best building of the past 100 years.
The Princes Square Shopping Centre, transformed in 1987 by architects Hugh Martin & Partners, was the first flagship project for interior retail design specialists The Design Solution.
The company said it provided retail planning, interior design, the shopping centre identity, design handbook and approvals – with its involvement ultimately leading to a move into travel retail.
“Our work on Princes Square was noticed by the then recently-privatised BAA (British Airports Authority – then owner of seven UK airports, including Glasgow) and, faced with intense regulatory pressures to reduce landing charges, BAA was founding its retail revolution to drive new standards of retail operations and drive non-aeronautical revenues,” explained The Design Solution Founder and Managing Director Robbie Gill.
“The Princes Square development expressed the innovative creativity and commercial awareness that BAA was seeking for its airport retail space at Gatwick, matching the very best of the domestic retail sector. BAA went on, of course, to transform its retail spaces and the echoes of that revolution continue to influence airport retail design to this day. From Princes Square we went on to land our first major project with BAA, at Gatwick North Terminal, in 1989.
“For The Design Solution that first BAA project was the launch of our specialisation in airport environments: the UK was country number one, airport number one, terminal number one and job number one. Since then we have worked in 55 countries, 117 airports, 149 terminals, 331 projects, with over 2.5 billion passengers passing through airports we have worked on. All thanks to Princes Square.”
Gill said Princes Square remains a “guiding beacon” of design because of its enduring appeal to the shopper and its commercial effectiveness. This prowess is supported by Sense of Place – a concept that would be explored in the airport space by The Moodie Davitt Report in association with The Design Solution in a series of articles in The Moodie Davitt e-Zine. The series has examined the best expressions of Sense of Place from airports across the world, and Gill recently selected the winners for a collection of informal awards: ‘The Design Solution ‘Sense of Place’ Awards’.
Looking back on the Princes Square project, Gill said: “I’m not sure that the term ‘Sense of Place’ even existed at the time but the building’s continuing appeal to the public emphasises the importance and effectiveness of good design in influencing the behaviour of the shopper. The amazing thing is that, in the fast moving world of retail, this shopping centre has remained almost untouched for nearly 30 years – demonstrating that good design is an investment that endures.”
The public vote to award ‘Scotland’s Best Building of the Past 100 Years’ was part of The Festival of Architecture 2016 and followed a touring exhibition – Scotstyle – that celebrated the 100 best expressions of Scottish architecture, attracting over one million visitors.