Warming Up Sarca!

Sesto San Giovanni / Italy / 2015

20 Love 2,568 Visits Published

The restyling of Centro Sarca Shopping Center is focused on people, who are welcomed as if they were entering a new home: inclusive, warm, well-nourished and sustainable.

Centro Sarca Shopping Center, which opened in 2003 on a site where an engineering plant had stood until a few years earlier, is one of the first shopping mall projects in Italy based on a urban regeneration. It is located in one of the most densely populated areas of the suburbs of Milan (Sesto San Giovanni) and is an important hub for shopping and evening entertainment.
Its restyling - simultaneously structural, architectural and commercial – is due to IGD’s (the owner and manager of the shopping center) desire to revamp the image of its fundamental asset and extend its already solid roots in the surrounding territory.
The work carried out, which began in 2013 and was completed in 2015, gave visitors a Shopping Center with a new vocation: what was once a suburban center is now an urban center that could easily be reached on foot, by bike or by underground.
The project designed by L22 embellished Centro Sarca Shopping Center with new colour schemes, forms, lighting and materials of a more natural and captivating nature with a view to enhancing the shopping experience and well-being of both shoppers and visitors. The awarding of BREEAM certification pays testimony to what has been achieved while, at the same time, also focusing on environmental sustainability.
Partly due to an upgrading of the merchandising and tenant mix, which has enabled full occupancy to be attained, the results at the end of all the work are extremely impressive, with visitors showing increasing appreciation in terms of footfalls and tenant sales.
Reasons for restyling
Centro Sarca Shopping Center officially opened in 2003 and acquired by IGD in 2006 (excluding the Hypermarket), which has been managing it ever since. 2009-2013 were the most tricky years for the Center, which was affected by the general fall in consumption and also by the opening of numerous competitors in its catchment area. That is why IGD decided to begin restyling operations in 2013, upgrading both the facility and what it has to offer and implementing a new project based along the same lines as EXPO 2015, with a real focus on the issues of sustainability, food and environment.
Work carried out
Restyling operations (the project for which was designed by L22) were divided into three stages: the first began in August 2013 with the construction of the new turnstiles on underground level -1, the second dates back to 2014-2015 when the interiors were completed and the third took place in the fourth quarter of 2015 with the rebuilding of the outside facade.
From a functional viewpoint, the work carried out restyled part of the shopping mall to try and attract new tenants, creating spaces for accommodating attractive medium-size areas, new tenants in the food court and also more traditional business. Attention was also focused on the multiplex film theatre, which had been negatively affected by the opening of an important competitor not far from the Center. It was decided to invest in the target group of ‘family’, with operations aimed at improving the facility’s overall user-friendliness.
Final results
The overall assessment of the work takes into account three factors:
Architectural design
The restyling project was based on a number of key concepts: the transforming of the Center’s technological charm, embodied in the hardness of its constituent materials and a certain discontinuity in its forms, into something more homely, naturalistic and biological.
Then a re-balancing of the various parts of the Center that were heavily weighted towards the hypermarket, so as to turn it into a more multi-faceted facility. Finally, an updating of the language the Center uses to speak to both its visitors and the urban territory in which it is located.
In a nutshell: the project set out to ‘warm up’ the environment in which Centro Sarca is located through new colours, forms, lighting and materials of a more natural, playful, lively and captivating nature, improving the shopping experience and well-being of both clients and visitors.
Homeliness and naturalness are embodied in every detail of both the interior and exterior space, from the furniture and choice of materials to the Wayfinding & Signage and even the new coordinated image.
Architectural work: the facade
The facade is a superimposed skin composed of coloured vertical elements that recompose the various parts of the old facade to form one single highly distinctive and seamless image. The sequence of lamellas, featuring various different degrees of density and rarefaction, is an authentic curtain.
There is also a clear reference to Fausto Melotti’s “La Sequenza”, located in the garden of nearby Bicocca Hangar, with which it shares certain features, such as the idea of a theatre curtain, rhythmic modulation and interaction between different themes and variations.
One of these variations is between day and night: some of the lamellas, made of expanded metal, have a light incorporated and turn into shining lanterns, thereby reconfiguring the Center’s image at night-time.
Architectural work_interior and exterior
The arcades and plazas are the linchpin of the project aimed at focusing on the most prestigious business sections, which have been rethought in terms of the vertical visibility between the different levels and horizontal perceptual variety of the pathways.
The Mall’s three plazas are its main congregation places. They more or less open up to the sky and natural light and are carefully distinguished in terms of naturalistic themes. The columns are like calla lily stems extending up to the roof to create a Spring/fairy tale-like setting in plaza A; a gigantic bunch of grapes (with each grape being a source of opaline light) has been placed right in the middle of spacious plaza B, which represents autumn.
Plaza C, whose flows and floors have been reorganised with chairs now actually emerging from the floor design, serves congregation and rest purposes. And this is also a key project theme in the arcades, where there are now more spacious interruptions in what would otherwise be seamless flows, in the form of lounges and forms of natural light with LED lighting ensconced in the various floor levels to catch the visitor’s eye and help guide them around.
The structural system of surfaces and finishes begins from the ground-floor entrance lobbies, where recycled wooden boards, green and white surface patterns shaped into biological forms, warm integrated lighting and new and more distinctive directional signage and graphics lead into the Shopping Center, creating a greater overall sense of identity and recognisability, a new balance in the use of spaces and a more homely, natural and sustainable atmosphere.
This strategy has also been implemented in the outside areas, where the new landscaping, planting of local species, creation of a cycle path linked up to the local network and installation of covered bike stands combine to make Centro Sarca a dynamic attraction working around a notion of re-appropriating public space that is inclusive, lively, pleasant and welcoming.
Environmental sustainability
The focus on environmental sustainability in the work carried out on the Centro Sarca is part of a sustainability policy, that IGD began implementing in 2010, which has gradually led to the attaining of significant results in terms of ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) issues. A significant part of this committment has focused on operations aimed at improving the environmental impact of Shopping Centers. The operations carried out on Centro Sarca are part of this general approach. The Center has gradually undergone an adaptation process, which IGD has been certifying over the last three years: in 2013 the Center was awarded UNI EN ISO 14001 certification and in June 2016 it received BREEAM certification.
It is currently the only Italian Shopping Center to have been awarded both these certifications. ISO14001 certification means that the Center has voluntarily certified that its own environmental management system is able to keep the impact of its own operations under control and is also capable of systematically striving to keep on improving in a consistent, efficient and, above all, sustainable way.
Centro Sarca was the first of IGD’s shopping centers to be certified back in 2013. The company aims for 90% of the shopping malls it owns to be awarded UNI EN ISO 14001 certification by 2018.
Right from the planning of restyling operations, IGD has always worked with the aim of obtaining BREEAM environmental certification, and Centro Sarca Shopping Center did, indeed, receive this certification in June 2016, one of the first fully operational shopping center to be awarded it in Italy.
BREEAM is, indeed, one of the most important and widely acknowledged international standards for the environmental sustainability of buildings and stands out for its special attention to enhancing the overall well-being of people in buildings: this certification nicely adapts to the aims of this restyling process or, in other words, to adapt the Center to the needs of visitors, who are increasingly interested in innovation, functionality and comfort and for whom attention to the environment is a notable added plus.
Centro Sarca obtained this certification due to its attention to environmental issues during building-site work and operations carried out both inside and outside for the purposes of restyling. These are the characteristics that were positively assessed by BREEAM certifiers:Optimum building site management with the separating of any waste produced and careful attention to its disposal LED lighting system, which has enabled a notable increase in LUXs and reduction in energy consumption;
Inverters on the escalators to slow them down when they are not being used, resulting in up to 40% savings in energy consumption;
Use of wood from recycled material to clad the entrance turnstiles;
Focusing on accessibility to the Center: creation of a cycle path linked up to the local network, installing of covered bike stands and software on digital televisions in the shopping mall to provide real-time information about public transport times and about traffic on the surrounding roads ;
Re-landscaping of the surrounding greenery, including the planting of local species.
As proof of the commitment to reduce the Center’s overall environmental impact, these operations led (in 2015) to a -2.3% reduction in electricity consumption compared to the previous year and -3.4% in overall consumption compared to 2014.
Business trends
The restyling project provided IGD with the chance to take a fresh look at its tenant and merchandising mix, in order to take stock of the main trends in shopping experience for visitors. With this in mind it set out to:
introduce new brands compared to those at the mall at the end of 2014; 16 new tenants had been accommodated by June 2016, with a predominance of leading national brands (over half with a GLA of over 100 m²);
attain full occupancy. By the end of the first semester: target attained;
upgrade its food courtby incorporating new brands (such as 100 Montaditos, Roadhouse Grill, Pizzeria Spontini, Sushi Koii), in order to provide a more varied offers capable of satisfying the requirements of the general public, which seems to approve of the new tenant mix: in the first six months this particular category of goods has increased by 25.9% compared to the same semester in 2015 (+3.3% like for like).
At the same time a loyalty program has been launched by means of digital totems placed all around the facility offering the chance to take advantage of promotions and enter a prize-winning competition; points can be collected both by making purchases from the shops and simply by entering the Center.
To get people to spend more time in the Center, services have been provided for recharging smartphones and tablets (so-called “Re-charge points”), the Wi-Fi network has been strengthened, and relaxation areas have been incorporated complete with a BookCrossing service.
The rising trend in the retailer sales is both significant and reassuring in light of all the hard work carried out: +21.7% during the first six months this year compared to the same period in 2015, +5.6% like-for-like. This latter figure proves that the work carried out has also had positive repercussions for tenants already operating in the Center.
At the end of restyling work on the Mall, Coop Lombardia, owner of the Hypermarket, also decided to renew the hypermarket both in terms of structure and products it offers.
This work, together with the Mall restyling, is aimed at achieving the same goal: to provide visitors with a completely renewed Shopping Center, both structurally and commercially, compared to just three years ago, and capable to meet all visitors’ requirements and to be attractive in its catchment area for both shopping and leisure time.

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    The restyling of Centro Sarca Shopping Center is focused on people, who are welcomed as if they were entering a new home: inclusive, warm, well-nourished and sustainable. Centro Sarca Shopping Center, which opened in 2003 on a site where an engineering plant had stood until a few years earlier, is one of the first shopping mall projects in Italy based on a urban regeneration. It is located in one of the most densely populated areas of the suburbs of Milan (Sesto San Giovanni) and is an...

    Project details
    • Year 2015
    • Work finished in 2015
    • Client IGD SIIQ SPA ,IGD Management S.r.l
    • Status Completed works
    • Type Shopping Malls
    Lovers 20 users