Gold Coast boutique retail precinct Cornerstone Stores, a finalist in last year’s Think Brick awards, is an example of how small retailers can create an experiential shopping experience to compete with the big conglomerate shopping centres.
To get a better idea how community precincts are pushing the boundaries of architectural design to emulate the all-in-one experience offered by large centres, like Westfield and Stockland, we caught up with Think Brick CEO Elizabeth McIntyre.
Better Building: What advice do you have for custom builders who would like to use brick to create better community spaces?
Elizabeth McIntyre: When working with community spaces, custom builders must have an awareness of the surrounding streetscape. Available in a wide range of colours, finishes and shapes, the versatility of brick is creating contemporary structures that transform community spaces without looking out of place.
Cornerstone Stores by Richard & Spence, a boutique retail precinct located at the southern end of Queensland’s Gold Coast, demonstrates careful planning and a no-nonsense aesthetic.
Local storefronts are typically sprawled across the town; however, Cornerstone Stores demonstrates how structures are using brick to redefine public space and contribute to the community through functional, aesthetic and experiential designs.
BB: What is the best way to strike a balance between functionality and aesthetics when using brick?
EM: To strike a balance between functionality and aesthetic in local precincts, the design of any public space should nurture a strong sense of community. Custom builders must consider the community they are building for and the environment it exists within.
Cornerstone Stores turns attention away from the highway to the neighbouring creek and nature reserve, offering a cloistered courtyard and garden for local residents.
Through the careful planning of Cornerstone Stores, the structure responds to its environment by directing the harsh Queensland sun to shade the precinct, redirecting this light to further accentuate the use of red brick.
Brick is also used to showcase the storefronts of local retailers, as it runs throughout the entire structure to define distinct spaces within the precinct. Bricks are durable, low maintenance and exposed bricks are considered attractive.
BB: What are some other under-the-radar materials builders can use to create better community spaces?
EM: Architects and builders are increasingly finding new ways of working with brick to create innovative builds in community spaces. As showcased in Cornerstone Stores, brick is no longer reserved for the exterior finish and is being used to transform interior spaces.
Typically, we see interior brickwork hidden in paint, plasterboard and render; however, modern builds are increasingly leaving brick exposed to create minimal and modern appeal. Exposed brick runs throughout the interior of Cornerstone Stores, championing the material quality of brick as a dynamic visual marker.