In an increasingly digital world, what is the future of the physical retail space? The modern retail development needs to do more than offer a choice between localization and globalization, it needs to merge the two so that they exist holistically in the same space. Retailers are seeking technology-rich facilities that provide the authenticity customers crave. Similarly, online retail and physical retail aren’t opposing ideas – they are two sides of the same coin for many businesses. The in-store experience must serve as a commercially viable counterpoint to online shopping. The modern architect, then, has much to consider when designing for retail, whether in the developed or developing world. Design, be it for the architects or the retailers, sits at the core of everything when the user experience is the priority. How do users engage with a space and how will it ultimately benefit both themselves and the retailer? Below we take a look at two of RMJM’s modern retail projects which have earned widespread praise for their forward thinking and allowing retailers to navigate a new age of shopping.

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RMJM’s Suning Plaza has combined luxury retail with iconic design and public spaces. 

Suning Plaza
A destination that allows users to linger is important for any retail project and particularly crucial to the success of RMJM’s Suning Plaza in Zhenjiang. The ultimate aim of this ambitious development was to create a new icon in the city with a project consisting of commercial shopping centers, a five-star hotel and interesting spaces for public activities. The importance of an engaging and appealing commercial setting runs at the heart of every successful retail development and is particularly evident here. The union of high-end retail and sustainable, environmentally driven public space doesn’t jar but instead hints at a bright future for retail developments in modern inner-cities.

The desire to create an iconic building meant that the look of the building was also a key focus. With a height of over 300 meters, the Suning Plaza responds to Zhenjiang’s strong historical and cultural elements and seeks to reflect the natural beauty of its surroundings. The project covers a total area of 33,600 m2 and was designed to encourage the natural flow of people from the adjacent city square, proving a sense of tranquillity and avoiding interference with traffic. A retail space which enhances both an inner-city landscape and the skyline doesn’t come along every day and this is a project of which RMJM is especially proud.

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The Suning Plaza is already considered an icon of the city of Zhenjiang.

Gate Avenue
RMJM’s Cityscape Award-winning retail project remains under construction but is set to provide a real estate development which pushes the envelope in the UAE. Located at the heart of the DIFC, the Gate Avenue will act as a hub for business professionals and feature luxury and exclusive retail developments. Once again, the RMJM plans include space to host cultural events, live performances and festivals with the aim to bring together a multicultural community. Furthermore, there’s a willingness to combine retail brands, culinary concepts and art events on site which will seek to redefine how retail is experienced in Dubai.

As with every RMJM project, the Gate Avenue will deliver significant value to both the developer and the end user. The varied retail environment transitions through three integrated zones. The North Zone will have an exclusive identity, while the Central Zone (conveniently located next to the DIFC Metro) will present a strong retail offering focused more on high-street brands with a wide range of indoor and al fresco dining option. The South Zone offers a more family-focused community experience centered around unique planting and shading structures to provide an engaging environment to be enjoyed day or night. The holistic connectivity underpins Gate Avenue’s unique appeal and it is now widely expected to become a premium lifestyle destination in Dubai.

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The Gate Avenue will add a rich layer to Dubai’s growing cultural tapestry.

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