A Focus On Community Brings Visionary Construction To The Barossa

– by Rick Capaldo, Project Manager

Having been brought up in a family business involving building and hardware, I’ve always had an appreciation for construction.

Yet, the construction industry is considered by most to be a ‘bricks and mortar’ business with no heart and soul. People often think it has very little to do with people.

However, I  know that construction has absolutely everything to do with people!

After all, it’s built by people for people to use once construction is complete.

Whether they’re patients, shoppers, residents, staff or students, it’s the community needs that matter, and that’s what we focus on when working on projects with clients.

  • How can we minimise disruption to their lives while making improvements?
  • What should their experience of the building look like?
  • How do we want them to feel when using it?

Thinking about these things is what turns a run-of-the-mill project into a visionary construction outcome.

I am currently project managing the transformation of Australia’s largest consumer co-operative, the Barossa Co-op centre, into a 24-tenancy shopping destination.

This redevelopment of the existing Murray Street, Nuriootpa retail business aims to deliver a new retail & boutique market precinct within the current site.

A community space full of heart and soul

As well as providing community gathering spots and better linkages for locals to the main street, the intention is to reflect the region’s unique culture. For example, the form of the new supermarket building is inspired by the local iconography of multi-gabled markets and vineyard structures.

Sarah’s main responsibilities are the design and construct of the new mall, base-build for the new IGA and ALDI supermarkets, IGA store fit-out, landscaping of new community areas, and refurbishment of the existing supermarket into an undercover car park, medical centre and tenancies.

But I like to think of Sarah, along with NH Architects, as bringing the community into the area. And our main focus is the people of that community.

Ensuring the community are safe and happy as we continue to build

The public are already enjoying use of the Arcade, while we continue construction behind temporary walls on either side of it.

We actually knew before winning the project that there would be an early handover of the Arcade. So Sarah had considerable input in coordinating the staging plan so that the general public would be able to use the space as quickly and freely as possible.

Driving an early handover of the Arcade while construction continues means considering aesthetics, usability and also that the general public would be completely safe between construction zones; the sort of challenge I love to overcome!

Overall, a better community experience

The new supermarket is now fronting the main street of Nurioopta, which is a considerable improvement to the user’s shopping experience in terms of convenience, and it also makes the site part of the existing community, rather than competing with the high street. It also means the site receives more footfall as it’s much more visible from the road.

Being a Co-operative, the public is number one for the client. And there have been some opportunities during the course of the project for the Sarah team to be flexible in making adaptations to suit them. In fact, we’ve been able to make improvement suggestions based not only on constructability but user experience and affordability too.

This side-steps any possible complaints from the public, and ensures a happier client.

For example, the northern end of the Arcade is an undercover area with cut-out sections in the roof as a design feature. The cut-outs allow rain through, but we anticipated this might be an issue for the public and raised it with the client; we’re now putting glazing in to close those five openings.

The future heart of the Barossa

The Co-op business has served the local community since the 1950’s as both grocer and employer to the region. This project cements this role and actually makes it a feature point for tourism.

The new IGA is one of the largest supermarkets in Australia in terms of physical footprint, so it’s putting Nuriootpa on the map and creating a huge amount of excitement. And because the Sarah team worked closely with NH Architects to produce a future-proof Masterplan, the needs of the community will continue to be served for years to come.

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