Feature Stories Special Feature

World Square

A local destination with an international audience

As Sydney continues to grow into its well-deserved reputation as an important global city straddling East and West, the redevelopment and expansion of the CBD recognises the constant reinvestment necessary if the city is to continue to provide residents with the enviable quality of life it’s known for the world over. The importance of crafting the city’s core in a way that fosters a culture-driven ‘Experience Economy’ that is so essential to maintaining a culturally rich and diverse offering throughout all times of the day and night has never been more clear.

While new mega-precincts are being carved into the traditional urban fabric, World Square represents a rare opportunity to reinvigorate an iconic, human-scaled property that stands at both the heart of the city and at a crossroads of global cultures. Uniquely positioned to captivate an established audience of enterprising commuters, dynamic local neighbourhoods, and engaging visitors from around the globe, World Square is transforming into a daily destination for enjoying the spectacle of daily life.

In recognising the immense potential held by the property, co-owners Arcadia and ISPT Super Property elected to collaborate with a team of local and international designers and retail strategists with the goal of nothing less than the complete revitalisation of World Square to meet the needs of the CBD’s evolving community.

Our neighbourhoods are part of a larger community

In many ways, World Square can be seen as pre-dating the future of retail – without bulky department stores to anchor it, the centre remains adaptable to reinvention; without an overwhelming amount of regimented retail GLA, leasing can be precisely attuned to the needs of its audience and offer attractive adjacencies to emerging concepts and exciting methods of engagement. The different venues nestled within this concentrated retail forum are tightly stitched together by the paths woven through the centre by Sydney’s diverse communities on their way to work, on their way to school, on their way to shop.

The influx of international tourism, especially from China and other neighbouring Asian nations, has also seen World Square thrive as a key destination for visitors to our city and adds another dimension of authenticity to the centre’s offering.

New South Wales accounts for more than 60% of Asian tourism, with Sydney garnering the lion’s share. Add in student population and the sustained influence of Chinatown, and we can showcase a distinct global perspective with our own unique Australian identity coming to the fore.

Another exceptional asset is the incredible connectivity being offered by the impending introduction of the George Street Light Rail as it retraces Sydney’s original High Street and makes a stop at World Square’s front door, giving the centre an unprecedented opportunity to build upon our elevated everyday offer and become an ‘always-on’ destination for the entire CBD (and indeed for Greater Sydney) that can be activated in smaller, more meaningful ways that showcase all of the cultural assets the city has to share.

A venue for the shared experience of new things

But the cost of living in any global city is high, and Sydney is no exception. For anyone living and working within the CBD, even those earning white collar salaries can find themselves feeling like they’re living more of a blue-collar lifestyle – every dollar has to do more and go further in order to provide them the lifestyle they expect from living in the big city.

World Square offers its audience easy access to affordable indulgences, engaging activations and a vibrant community life that is critical to their satisfaction – after all, why live, work and study in the city if it doesn’t offer a vibrant lifestyle?

All classic, successful urban spaces are about empowering people that gather and integrate themselves into the flow of daily rituals and community life. World Square offers patrons that same critical balance of a dense, incredibly productive retail offer of elevated everyday convenience surrounded by a series of open-air venues that collectively create one of the few smaller-scale urban spaces within the fabric of our city, just steps away from the hustle and bustle of Sydney’s busiest thoroughfares.

The sheltered public spaces are clustered close to one another but broken into smaller spaces that are more comfortably explored and occupied, creating a feeling of intimacy and offering a variety of premium events designed to entice and engage without becoming overwhelming. Early morning Tai Chi; a midday getaway for some quick retail therapy; grabbing some necessities on the way home; catching up with friends after work – it all comes to life within the heart of World Square.

We also recognise that culture can include more than historical perspective, nationality, and the traditional arts. The craftsmanship offered by the maker class continues to fascinate people who seek a return to quality; street culture brought to life by students drives high fashion trends; the artwork that comes from the worlds of anime and manga define a visual language all of their own, affecting emerging arts and the world of graffiti.

By focusing on delivering a carefully crafted offering that blends unique retail and a full range of cultural engagement, we can create a feeling of activation that will make World Square the first choice for quality events and the broadest possible spectrum of visitation.

With that in mind, it has partnered with the Sydney Festival, The Fringe Festival, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and Vandal, to name a few. We want everyone to feel welcome, but offering a clear reason to visit will be the main differentiator that keeps us foremost in the minds of our customers and the breakout brands we partner with, and can empower us to continue energising the entire southern CBD.

About the author

Francesco Cordua

Francesco Cordua is the founder of Exultant, a NYC-based brand accelerator platform that collaborates with design partners Villa+Villa in the Australasian market. 

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