Car Park as Art Space
May 23, 2013

'Car Park' is the inaugural exhibition space for Alaska Projects, a multi-disciplinary artist-run initiative. The gallery is located underground in a city-owned parking structure in Kings Cross, Sydney. The exhibition space is a compact 5 meter square abandoned mechanic's office and two adjacent parking spots.

Started in 2011, Alaska has established itself as one of the most important exhibition spaces in Sydney's independent arts scene. Its hosted over 130 artists, a film series and eight concerts, including a performance by the Sydney symphony.

Much of Alaska's charm is in its location. Far from the familiar sight of commercial galleries clustered in leafy, residential Paddington and Woollahra, Alaska is in the heart of Kings Cross, the most densely populated area of Australia, steps away from the city's late night bars and adult entertainment. The context makes the gallery experience welcoming and inclusive, its hard to be pretentious when you're standing in a carpark.

In its first year of operation, the space attracted over 10,000 visitors. Founder Sebastian Goldspink points out that the novelty of being located in a car park attracts people the first time they hear about it but repeat visitation is the true measure of the experience. Alaska Projects is a non-profit and doesn't charge artists to exhibit, which gives artists and performers more freedom in their choice of what work to share with visitors. Exhibitions at Alaska often run concurrently to the same artists' shows in prestigious commercial galleries. Concurrent shows complement each other by appealing to different audiences, increasing visibility and creating cross-marketing opportunities. 

Temporary Activation through Online Retail

May 17, 2013

Art Pharmacy, the first online art gallery in Australia, is running two back to back exhibitions at Under New Management (UNM), part of a City of Sydney initiative to activate vacant street level retail space on Oxford Street. Art Pharmacy's aim is to make affordable art accessible to everyone and support the local Australian art scene. Short-term physical exhibitions provide a bridge between the art and digital worlds, removing the overhead costs of a permanent gallery space while generating a memorable connection between buyers and artists, and creating a genuine sense of community.

This is the second time Art Pharmacy has held an exhibition that activated an under utilised retail space. The event gives founder Emilya Colliver an opportunity to trial locations, gauge demand and increase brand visibility without the risk of investing in a long-term space.  For potential buyers, being able to see artworks in person helps build trust in the quality of the collection, creates opportunities to meet the artists in person and ultimately leads to buyers becoming more comfortable purchasing art online.

Online Retailers Extend into Bricks & Mortar
May 15, 2013

As a testament to the engagement power of in-store retail experiences, retailers that have built their brand followings online are opening both temporary or permanent physical store locations. is one of the fastest growing online retailers in the world. Sales from its wide-ranging assortment of "everyday design" home decor, apparel, gifts and food grew 500% in 2012 and are currently tracking to reach $250 million in 2013. The site sells a product every 7 seconds.

Despite the runaway success of its online retail platform, Fab has invested in opening its first brick and mortar store in Hamburg, Germany. The space serves as a test site where the brand can determine the most engaging retail format in one of its strongest markets before rolling out to other retail locations.

Its store serves as a showroom for its line of customisable furniture inventory, allowing shoppers to browse materials and finishes, build products online either in-store or at home and have them delivered.

Among the most engaging store fit out examples is prescription eyeglass retailer Warby Parker, which has integrated key features from its online interface into its newly opened SoHo flagship store, designed by Partners & Spade.

Digital displays are integrated into shelving and staff use iPads for sharing product details and processing purchases. In-store sales are connected through backend systems to the same inventory online, making the store a true extension of the online experience. "The future of our business and all retail is going to have some online and some offline component," says co-founder David Gilboa.

Although Warby Parker launched online in 2010 and opened its flagship store three years later in April 2013, the brand has always had some physical presence. Starting with appointments in the founders apartment where people could try on samples the brand built awareness through innovative brand experiences such as the "Class Trip" nine city bus tour and '60s-themed "Readery" kiosks placed in the lobby of The Standard hotels.

Taking the Cellar Door Experience on the Road

May 10, 2013

Caravan of Courage is a traveling cellar door experience created by Next Generation Hunter Valley.
The joint venture includes six winemakers who combine old vineyards with contemporary methods to produce wines reflective of their own personalities.  Their wine making and marketing techniques are redefining the image of the Hunter Valley wine region.

“One More For The Road” is a month long travelling wine bar housed in a bus. The ticketed event brings 24 wines from the Hunter Valley through five Australian cities, for one-night-only mobile cellar door experiences.

The Caravan arrived in Sydney on May 10th, is traveling to Canberra the following week and wrapping up at 1000£ Bend, a unique retail, cafe and event space in Melbourne.

Immersive 3D Photography

May 9, 2013 commissioned two Australian artists to create a unique immersive image of European landmarks as part of a promotional event held during lunchtime in Martin Place.

The crowd-pleasing technology lets people pose on a flat illustration that appears to surround them when viewed onscreen.


iPads mounted on podiums for posting photos to Facebook and entering to win flights to Europe.

Measuring Workspaces Impact on Productivity

March 29, 2013

In preparation for conducting research in leading Australian workplaces, Place has been reviewing international case studies and come across some great academic and industry research from overseas. Potential cost savings and better space utilisation are well documented benefits to activity-based and agile workspace configurations.

The benefit that actually adds value (rather than just saving costs) but is much harder to quantify is the impact of changes to the physical work environment on productivity. 

AECOM's Strategy Plus practice (at the time operating as DEGW) surveyed knowledge workers in 18 organisations and found that workers "lose 66 minutes a day to inefficiencies, hassles, and distractions and spend only 35% of their time at their desks."

In their redesign of pharmaceutical company Lilly's headquarters, profiled in the September 2011 issue of the Harvard Business Review, post-fit out worker satisfaction rates almost doubled and the amount of time lost to interruptions, distractions and looking for meeting rooms decreased by 16%.

Several academic studies have shown a direct correlation between agile workspace configurations and worker attraction, satisfaction and retention, ultimately all leading to increases in productivity. The challenge is adapting academic approaches to a commercial context is to establish accurate metrics that take into account variations in what productive work looks like across different industries and organisations. 


Permit Saint Paul
February 26, 2013

Permit Saint Paul is a user-friendly, web-based portal that developers, businesses, entrepreneurs and residents could use to apply for business permits, licenses and DAs. It aims to reduce the cost of processing applications and payments. It will reduce the time that city staff spend reviewing basic plans and allow them to focus on more complex applications.

The concept was submitted by the city of Saint Paul and is one of 20 finalists in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge, a competition which aims to find and spread innovative solutions challenges facing cities across the United States. The Mayors Challenge is open to any US city with over 30,000 residents. One grand prize of $5 million and four additional prizes of $4 million will be awarded by June 2013.

Putting the substantial prize money aside, the program has a lot in common with the grass roots urban prototyping movement, with shared driving principles of developing open-source, publicly documented and replicable solutions.

February 15, 2013

Cosign is an initiative that paired independent businesses with designers and sign fabricators to create original exterior signage that draws attention to the historic architecture, craftsmanship and walkability of the Northside precinct in Cincinatti. All the signs were unveiled on Black Thursday 2012, the start of the holiday shopping peak in the U.S.

Digital Customer Service

January 14, 2013

Royal Caribbean has added over 300 interactive digital kiosks to its newest and largest ships, Oasis and Allure of the Seas. The touchscreen displays are Samsung flat-panel monitors turned sideways. The highly intuitive, real-time interface allows passengers to search for activities and events, navigate back to their room and see how busy restaurants are when they are deciding where to eat. The kiosks have increased guest satisfaction by aiding navigation, making information more accessible and reducing wait times. Royal Caribbean has reduced costs through efficiencies in both guest services and restaurant operations.

Immersive and Unstructured Experiences

January 3, 2013

In Punchdrunk’s pioneering immersive theatre productions, there are no seats or stage. Instead the audience occupies the same space as the actors and are free to walk around the large performance sites, the world of the story. The entire production is a large art installation, with physical props that people are free to touch and examine as part of the experience. The audience can choose to follow specific actors or themes through the space or move between simultaneous story threads.

After their recent success in New York with the Macbeth adaptation, "Sleep No More", the next step for the production company is to apply their ground breaking approach to travel, where the real world becomes the stage and the lines between fictional story and real life are blurred to the point where guests can't be certain when the performance starts and ends.

A local example of immersive, unstructured experiences is The Stream / The Boat / The Shore / The Bridge, an interactive performance that premiered at the 2012 Next Wave Festival in Melbourne. The highly contextual show is a series of interconnected, site-specific performances. During each of the four performance segments, one audience member interacts directly with one performer in a public space, on and around the Southbank Pedestrian Bridge in the Melbourne CBD.

The SBSB trailer from Max Milne on Vimeo.

Hackathons and Property Development

December 19, 2012

Hackathons have emerged out of the tech industry as a cost-effective method of testing solutions through iterative prototyping. The approach is a natural fit for companies where innovation and speed to market is critical for gaining a competitive advantage. The emphasis is not on eliminating the occurrence of failed products but on reducing the cost of new products through frequent, small-scale testing and limiting development time. 


The 24 - 48 hour hackathon format is also being tested by non-tech industries, including property development. Australian property group GPT is currently hosting a 24 hour hackathon as an approach to updating services and facilities at the MLC Centre office tower and retail space.


Whether or not the marathon format takes root as a regular business practice, its undeniable that the combination of using mass data to gather accurate, real-time information on how spaces are being used and prototyping to reduce the cost and time it takes to bring a concept to market is the key to creating dynamic, profitable retail and commercial spaces.



Using Adaptive Reuse to Attract Office Tenants
December 14, 2012

Philadelphia’s Navy Yard is a case study in the potential of using creative companies as early adopters to attract larger, mainstream tenants to post-industrial sites. Retailer Urban Outfitters has been the catalyst for transforming a decommissioned shipbuilding yard into a dynamic waterfront office park with over 120 tenants. 

In 2006, the company purchased four buildings and leased a fifth from the City of Philadelphia for one dollar. It then invested $140 million over two years to renovate and fit out five buildings to house 600 staff.

The adaptive reuse headquarters is a perfect expression of the brand, which has become synonymous with placing stores in idiosyncratic locations such as former car dealerships, factories, churches and mansions. Clothing, accessories and home wares are displayed amid antiques and authentic vintage décor. 

Since moving, Urban has posted record sales increases, reduced staff turnover, reduced open hire times for senior positions and doubled its workforce. Founder Dick Hayne credits the inspiring post-industrial location as a key draw for attracting top creative talent, saying “The campus has sparked recruitment and improved creative collaboration, which ultimately impacts our bottom line”.

Urban’s pioneering relocation was the catalyst for the migration of 120 other companies, with a collective workforce of over 10,000. The latest and most high-profile tenant is the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, which signed a 15.5 year lease for a new, $81million, LEED Platinum certified facility to be completed in early 2013. 

Play Area + Information Kiosk, Tokyo

December 12, 2012

As part of the campaign "Waku Waku Water Front", a combination play area and information kiosk has been installed in the shopping centre LaLaport Toyosu in Tokyo. The campaign was commissioned by Mitsui Real Estate to attract potential residents to the emerging bayside residential area Fudosan. The kiosk serves as an information and reception desk for adults inquiring about events in the area. While parents are chatting with staff, their children can redesign the space using modular building blocks inspired by surrounding buildings, yachts and other elements.
Designed by Torafu Architects

The Space Program, Singapore

November 30, 2012

On our visit to Singapore earlier this month, the Place team stayed at the New Majestic hotel, which is host to the very first installation of The Space Program by Foreign Policy Design Group. The temporary installation is part cultural exhibit part curated retail boutique, intended to "re-program, re-activate and rejuvenate" spaces that are overlooked or just merely functional. 

The New Majestic installation brought together a selection of books, music, magazines, accessories, housewares, perfume and art chosen to represent three elements of the hotel brand: Design, Intellect and Contemporary Culture. All the products were housed in low-cost materials that evoked the washboards that were integral to daily life in the early stages of Singapore's history. 

The Rabbit Hole Ideation Cafe, Brisbane
November 16, 2012

Recently transplanted from the West End to a restored 1930s bacon factory in Fortitude Valley, The Rabbit Hole is a co-working space and cafe offering desks, boardrooms and studio spaces for hire. The cafe doubles as an event space and is working towards licensing for extended use after hours.

SOHO Galaxy, Beijing
November 12, 2012

Place took a sneak peak at the stunning new 330,000m2 development SOHO Galaxy, designed by Zaha Hadid. Once the fit outs are in place, the first three storeys will be retail with office space above, all topped by top floor restaurants and cafes to take advantage of panoramic city views. 
The location is directly off of a major thoroughfare, making it impossible to miss and an instant urban landmark. 

Diner en Blanc, Sydney
October 29, 2012

The lawn in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art was chosen as the secret location for Sydney's first Diner en Blanc, a French temporary event concept in which thousands of diners arrive dressed entirely in white, bringing their own white tables, chairs, linens, dishes and meal. The event organisers secure the location, which is only revealed to participants as they arrive by bus from a remote location. 

Sydney's Diner en Blanc was part of the Crave Sydney International Food Festival and attracted 1500 people, including one of Place's own.

Urban Prototyping Festival


October 22, 2012

San Francisco and Singapore both hosted urban prototyping festivals on Saturday. These festivals serve as public platforms for a rising movement that uses participatory design, open source technology and mass data to create innovative ways to connect people and places.

Singapore's event at Archifest Pavillion focused on how technology and data from mobile phones, transport and purchasing systems can be used to make Singapore more liveable

UP:San Francisco was a street exhibition of 23 early stage projects, selected for for public display from an initial open call of 100 entries. The strategy is to build quick working models and test them at temporary venues, such as festivals to quickly generate feedback from visitors, city officials, and other stakeholders. Every project produced will be open source, publicly documented, and replicable worldwide.

Urban Parasol is a modular shade structure made from PVC pipes and 3-D printed fiberglass joints, which can be attached to a utility pole using non-invasive mounting.

The End of Offices?
September 10, 2012

A study commissioned for the tenth anniversary of the TV show, The Office, indicated that 58% of U.K. workers think the office of today will not exist in ten years.

There are already early signs of this paradigm shift, with companies saving on overhead costs by giving workers stipends to spend on co-working locations. Yell, an online search engine based in the UK, identified 20 properties sitting vacant 70% of the time. By giving staff money to spend on co-working locations, it saved 40% of its property costs.

The true value of an office is the gains the organisation gets from collaboration and the cross pollination of ideas. Increasingly the most profitable workplace activity is not production or individual tasks but rather about information sharing and ideation. Most desks are designed around to facilitate “doing something” rather than social interaction.

The mismatch of spatial design to behaviour is driving workers to spend more time in hospitality and other public spaces. Co-working spaces are commercialising the behaviour of working at a café or holding a meeting in the foyer.

MOV, Shibuya

One of the best examples is MOV, a co-working space for creative freelancers located in the Hikarie shopping centre in Tokyo. It doesn’t look anything like an office. It looks like a restaurant, it looks like a library, it looks like an airport lounge. The space is inviting and creative while still providing the essential functionality of an office.

societyM, Glasgow

Low-cost, design-driven hotel brand citizenM has created a workspace for “business nomads”. This hybrid between a hospitality and workspace is a new take on the generic hotel business centre, providing guests with a desirable space to fluidly move between sleeping, eating, working and interacting.

Grind, NYC

A collaboration between five creative agencies has developed into a co-working space called Grind, on Park Avenue in New York. The brand focuses on building a like-minded community of “free-radicals” – every member has to be recommended by another member.

Welcome to the future of work from Grind on Vimeo.

NFC: The Next Wave in Mobile Marketing
April 23, 2012


Near Field Communication (NFC) is a mobile technology likely to overtake QR codes within this year as a more effective and user friendly method of delivering media and marketing directly to consumers. NFC enabled smart phones have a chip embedded in them that use short-wave signals to send information without having to download an app, swipe a card or navigate to a website.

Sydney-based technology platform, Tapit Media ( secured a preferred supplier deal with JCDecaux last September and has a goal of enabling 530,000 advertising sites in Australia by next year.

NFC is already being used by real estate agents to instantly deliver property details to prospective buyers.

In Switzerland, a recent proof-of-concept trial demonstrated how Near Field Communication (NFC) technology will improve the airport check-in and security clearance processes at airports.

NFC has significant advantages compared to current mobile check-in systems. Passenger data is embedded into the phone’s SIM card, rather than being an onscreen image. This means that the phone does not need to be powered on or connected to a network. Nothing needs to be downloaded or displayed, avoiding the risk of travelers running out of batteries, fraudulent tickets or damaged screens.

The trial was run by Geneva based IT solution provider, SITA partnered with mobile phone and communications provider, Orange and airport equipment providers DESKO and Kaba.

ParkMe: Parking App with Real Time Availability
April 15, 2012

iPhone App ParkMe uses map graphics to show drivers available parking spaces and comparative costs near their destination. Users enter their arrival time and intended length of stay and instantly see a cost comparison of both on and off-street parking options on an onscreen map. Real time updates from pay machines and garage sensors shows drivers the likelihood of finding space available. Currently the online database includes over 25,000 locations in 500 cities, including a few sites around Sydney.

The greatest potential benefit is in the app’s ability to deliver real-time occupancy information to parking providers and generate predictive algorithms to track and forecast visitor levels. ParkMe is developing in-app payments and reservations, which could make it possible for parking lot operators to attract patrons through dynamic pricing and rewards

App Helps Austinites Find Downtown Parking:

Steal Banksy: All Hail the Artist (Place Trend #1, 2011)
Monday January 16, 2012

In another sign that destinations are starting to understand the pulling power of big name artists, the Art Series Hotels has successful staged, 'Steal Banksy' which encourages guests to try their luck at nabbing an original. The only rule is that if patrons are stopped in the act they need to return the prized loot.

The promotion has had the digital world in a spin, and it's great to see property managers truly understanding the benefits of using art (and humour) to market their destination. The Place team are checking in this week: wish us luck with our five finger discount.

Steal Banksy Website

Ebay Christmas Boutique: Entering the Physical Realm

Sunday January 15, 2012

It was only a matter of time before the mainstream online retailers entered the physical realm. Ebay's Christmas Boutique in London's Soho represents a serious effort by the global monolith to crack the remaining 50% of the population who have 'never shopped on ebay'. Items were shown in-situ and had listing details which took customers to the online posting. The items were rotated throughout the Christmas season to provide customer's with a ready collection of 'buy-nows'. 

It will be interesting to see how the other online retailers enter the physical space in such a way as to maximise the benefits of both channels without losing their soul.

Customer Experience Builds Loyalty: The Evidence
Thursday November 24, 2011

Many of our clients rightly ask for evidence of a connection between customer experience and loyalty. This measurable justifies the increased expediture in creating an remarkable and memorable experience for customers. The best source of evidence is found in the Forrester Report, published in 2009. The report examines the connection between customer experience and three components of loyalty in three key areas:

- Reluctance to switch business from a company
- Willingness to buy another product from a company
- Likelihood to recommend a company to a friend or colleague

"The analysis is based on a survey of nearly 4,700 US consumers in October 2008. Across all 12 industries examined, there was at least a medium level of correlation between customer experience and loyalty; in most cases the correlation was much higher." Based on the report the sectors who benefit most from an improved customer experience are hotels, banks, airlines and IT providers. In summary here are a few pointers from the report:

"Don't let the recession take your focus away from customers.  The strengthened correlation between customer experience and loyalty during the past year highlights the importance of customer experience, especially during this recession. Since new customers are harder to come by in an economic downturn, firms need to pay even more attention to building loyalty with their most important customers.

Firms will need to adopt three principles: 1) obsess about customer needs, not product features; 2) reinforce brands with every interaction, not just communications; and 3) treat customer experience as a competence, not a function."

Forrester Report

Experience Matters Discussion

Re:Start: Retail Renewal in Christchurch
Wednesday November 23, 2011

The tragic events of earlier in the year are starting to fade as Cashel Mall in Christchurch opened Re:Start. The shipping container retail solution is both clever and appropriate. With the retail resurgence has come the opportunity to rethink the retail mix, invite one-off boutiques and provide customers with a shift in experience. The results have not gone unnoticed either, with the popularity of the innovative solution receiving global media coverage.

Qantas: Representing Brand Australia
Monday October 31, 2011

Following this weekend's Qantas grounding, the Tourism industry rightly pointed out the loss of revenue for their sector. While the event undoubtedly cost the Australian economy millions in lost productivity the more interesting and lastly legacy will be the impact on brand Australia. Unlike any other country, Australians are notoriously insecure about their self-interest abroad. Having worked on global perception research, Place Associates can uncover some interested factors at play. One fact that we do know is that Australia is continually the most desirable country global citizens cite that they 'want to visit'. Of course many do not, but the intention is strongest for travel to Australia. Secondly, we know that even though Qantas only accounts for 20% of international arrivals it is intrinsically linked to the nation it serves. As a symbolic point, the Kangaroo which adorns the tail fin of all Qantas aircraft is the most recognisable country-specific icon, with over 93% of the world's population associated the animal with the country. The next closest country-specific icon is the maple leaf of Canada, at 87%. Even then, some would say they have an advantage, placing the symbol on the national flag provides an obvious link.

In all of this is the answer to suggest that the grounding of the national carrier will have an overriding detrimental impact on the national perception abroad. Regardless of whether you are flying the national carrier or not, when that big red kangaroo comes rolling round it creates the strongest visual link to the most desirable country.

City Talk: Charles Landry
Tuesday October 25, 2011

The next installment of the City Talks series sees esteemed placemaker Charles Landry present the keynote address. He will be joined by a panels of notable figures on a panel to discuss how to 'unlock and marshal the creative energy' within a city. The session runs from 6:00 until 7:30 next Thursday November 2. Tickets are free and available from ticketmaster.

City Talks Website

Ticketmaster Website

Gary, Indiana: Picturesque Decline
Tuesday October 18, 2011

More proof that the ‘olde is the nu new’ (Place trend #6): Gary, Indiana, just East of Chicago is offering its decaying city as a moviemaking backdrop. For a more than affordable $500 per day, studios after an apocalyptic setting can film away. The funds go straight towards training the next generation of local film makers through a high school education program. The program has turned out to be quite a boon for local enterprise with the town taking bookings for key sites months in advance. Overall, its a great example of urban decline being turned into a positive business and marketing exercise. In a ironic turn, the decline of the town has not saved the film industry which it now supports – the local cinema closed its doors back in 1998.

Forbidden Places Website

Photo Credit: Angela J Hill

Pool Plus: Crowdsourcing Development
Monday October 17, 2011

In yet another sign of the democratisation of development, three friends from NYC have launched '+ Pool', a project which is aiming to build a suspended Olympic-sized pool in Hudson River. So far they have received over 24 thousand 'likes' and over $US50,000 through crowdsourcing donations thanks to websites like 'Kickstarter'. Not to let council red tape get in the way, the guys spent most of last year talking with local cultural, developmental and environmental groups, learning about the waterways and refining the social and ecological performance of the project.

They have also teamed up with Arup and spent the winter studying water quality, structural configurations, energy use, site potentials and of course the filtration system. The team state: 'Arup helped us understand the state of New York City's waters and what the pool needed to do to achieve our desired level of water quality. At the end of May, we received the final feasibility report from Arup that essentially said yes, this can happen, and here's how.'

Pool Plus Website

Kick Starter Donations

Regional Relocations: Rebrand Required?
Thursday October 13, 2011

Governments around the world are working to incentivise regional relocations and reduce the stress on large cities. However the task is appear more difficult than first thought as the NSW government is realising. A recent regional relocation incentive has yielded a measly 50 families, despite the projected 10,000 per year. The program was offering $AU7,000 for families relocating from their primary residence from Sydney, Newcastle or Wollongong to somewhere else in the state. Place wonders whether these government departments understand the protracted decision making process involved. Sometimes these decision require more than financial incentive alone. Perhaps a rebrand and investment in regional services would be advantageous. 

SMH Article

NSW Government Website

Boycott Braehead: Retailers verses People Power
Wednesday October 12, 2011

The age of terrorism and heavy-handed security is running into the rise of collective power. Braehead retail centre in Glasgow Scotland, has experience the full force of social media following one father's attempts to photograph his own daughter. While security guards pounced on the man under the guise of terrorism, the well-meaning dad had already uploaded the photos to his facebook page. Upon learning this news the guards notified police who allowed the unsuspecting father to 'keep the images this one time'. Enter collective power and the social media channel. Within weeks the 'Boycott Braehead' campaign had gathered speed through its own Facebook page. Twenty five thousand 'likes' later, the centre is licking its wounds. The case serves as a good example of why it is important to train all customer-facing personnel in the finer details of service.

Boycott Braehead Facebook Page

Find My Car: Carparking Made Easy, or is it?
Tuesday October 11, 2011

The hassle of finding your car after a shopping expedition has got easier – or has it? Westfield has trialled the iPhone app ‘Find my car’ for their top-tier centre at Bondi Junction. From the time of opening, the centre had been plagued by a series of issues regarding its car park, not least of all that many customers were unable to find their cars after shopping.

This latest development was intended to solve the need to SMS yourself the exact x and y coordinates. The app works by using the park assist system of in-built cameras. As a shopper, you simply type in your number plate and the system scans parked car plates to offer potential matches. Once the car is selected, the shopper is asked to input their location and the app maps out the fastest way back to the parking spot.

But the app has run into some difficulties. During a recent test by The Australian, the app failed to show a direct route to the car as some shopping centre infrastructure was missing from the mapping database. However, a larger consideration for the system is the rather problematic issue of confidentiality. Anyone is able to type in anyone’s number plate and find out where that car is located. Westfield highlighted this situation by stating:

“Park Assist, which provides the camera technology to capture the number plate, yesterday advised there was an issue with the authentication of their data feed to the iPhone which resulted in number plate data being publicly accessible via the internet.”

Pulse Project: MIT Media Lab
Monday October 10, 2011

The Media Lab at MIT are trying to solve one of those eternal questions, What makes a safe or unique place? The online experiment has collected responses from over 50,000 participants through a series of visual stimuli. The comparative study shows two images from which the viewer chooses one to be more safe, or more unique. Through the 20-step process, the results are correlated with others to provide a comprehensive understanding of what constitutes a very unsafe or safe place. Through the results we can truly start to address how we create places that are perceived to be safer or more distinctive.

Pulse Project Website

Lemonade Detroit: The Resurgence Begins
Friday October 7, 2011

After many years in decline, the city of Detroit is finally getting a voice through the documentary film Lemonade Detroit. The piece showcases the decline of this once great city and profiles the responses of residents, business owners and collaborators who have slowly raised it from the ashes. This is a great story of how cities can reinvent themselves through grassroots programs.

Documentary Trailer

Disused Stations: London’s Tourist Goldmine
Wednesday 5 October, 2011

A former JPMorgan Chase & Company executive aims to turn 26 unused London subway stations and bomb shelters into shops and tourist attractions after raising 200 million pounds ($A300 million) from investors.

Ajit Chambers, chief executive officer of Old London Underground, stated in an interview: “We've set up the construction teams, the finance availability and the investment to renovate underground space.”

Old London Underground plans to open the first site, Brompton Road station, in time for the 2012 Olympic Games in East London, Chambers said. The station, owned by the Ministry of Defence, has been shuttered since the mid-1950s, after serving as the headquarters of southern England's anti-aircraft defences during World War II.

The Economist Article

London Loves Business Article

Twitter: Mapping our mood
Tuesday 4 October, 2011

For many businesses a key challenge is how they connect with customers at the right time. A recently published study by Harvard University attempts to map the high and low moods of Twitter users throughout the day based on their geographic location. Unsurprisingly, the study suggests that we are at our perkiest around morning coffee time and trail off until the late-afternoon slump, before picking up again in the evening. In terms of the day of the week, customers are most positive on Sunday, followed by Saturday and then Friday.

Sable and Argent: The Future of Retail
Tuesday October 4, 2011

Retail is here is stay and you need only look at shops such as Sable and Argent to discover why. This premium two-wheel lifestyle showroom is a hub for Sydney's cycling revolution.

This retailer represents all that is good about physical retail: great knowledgeable service, specialist products, diverse range and after-hours programs. Place especially likes the bookshelf for all those inner-city rest stops. So what do they do that makes them 'the future of retail'. Here's five hallmarks:
1. Specialised Knowledge
2. Attentive and Approachable Service
3. Wide Range of Well-Sourced Products (not available online)
4. Reasons to Visit (beyond purchasing goods)
5. Loyal and Well-Connected Followers

Rainbow City, NYC
Tuesday 4 October, 2011

FriendsWithYou have worked with AOL to stage the 40-piece environmental installation Rainbow City in New York City. Originally commissioned by Luminato Festival of the Arts in Toronto and showcased during Art Basel Miami 2010, FriendsWithYou presents a vibrant collection of mutable, air-filled sculptures.

This happy city is made up of intensely coloured balloon pieces, encouraging visitors to be active and explore the giant 3000-square-metre playground. Built for adults and children alike, the installation allows for interaction with each art object, making the experience unforgettable. This might influence the design and scale of the next retail play area!

Friends With You Website

Rink by Uniqlo, High Line Project, NYC
Tuesday 4 October, 2011

Another great installation from Friends of the High Line during the summer of 2011. The Lot was envisioned as a single season amenity to celebrate the new section of the High Line and centred on a large-scale ice skating rink. Open to everyone, the site is sponsored by Japanese clothing brand UNIQLO. This installation represents a fantastic way to activate a previously closed space through a commercial partnership agreement – and it’s a great way to give something back too.

Space Invaders: Transforming Places

Tuesday 4 October, 2011

The value that small-scale enterprise provides underutilised places is finally being realised. The AFR published an article in the Life&Lifestyle section which outlines the benefits which regional cities have enjoyed by engaging in this approach. One of the projects sighted was Renew Newcastle which reinvigorated the downtown area with the assistance of developer GPT.

Appreciate the Point: Another Example of PrecinctInc
Tuesday 4 October, 2011

In collaboration with the City of Sydney, the Potts Point Partnership of retailers has banded together to market the area. Already a thriving retail strip in Sydney's inner-east, the retailer collective wanted to increase their share of spend through the 'Appreciate the Point' program. Marketing initiatives were held in conjunction with the distribution of communications such as an events guide, maps and participating business listing. The area is aiming to position itself as a liable alternative to the local mega-malls by differientiating itself through the diversity of experience it offers. 

Purpose-Built Ghost Town: Only $200M
Tuesday 4 October, 2011

In this day and age when technology needs to work first-time, a Washington DC-based technology company has expressed interest in creating a ghost town in New Mexico with the sole purpose of giving companies and organisations a place to check the limits of renewable energy systems, smart grid cyber security, wireless systems and traffic on a large scale before they implement it into a real city.

The planned city is expected to help understand the challenges of upgrading cities to the smart grid.Pegasus Global Holdings is the tech company behind the so-called Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation, or The Center for short.

“The idea for The Center was born out of our own company’s challenges in trying to test new and emerging technologies beyond the confines of a sterile lab environment,” Robert H. Brumley, Pegasus Global’s CEO said in a statement. So the tech company decided it should build that sterile environment. It is spending $200 million to create the modern-day ghost town.

100 Years of East London Style
Friday 30 September, 2011

In these tough retail times, the show-stopping opening of Westfield Stratford in East London certainly turned heads. The teaser campaign has spared no expense, with two models dressed in 100 outfits, each representing a year of the last century. The whole 100 seconds is an amazing piece of choreography.

Watch the Video

Created by The Viral Factory and directed by Jake Lunt, the short film was shot in four separate locations in the eastern part of the capital, all of which depict a real sense of early London life.

Place Reinvents Fishermans Bend
Wednesday 28 September, 2011

Along with partners Urbis and e2, Place has held the second installment of the Reinvention workshop series, The Reinvention of Fishermans Bend. The seven-square-kilometre site is a well-situated business location near the Yarra River, at the south-western edge of the central city. However, the existing heavy industrial area is due for a rethink as it is occupying prime space close to Melbourne’s CBD.

Melbourne City Council Site Description

Together with its partners, Place held a one-day session which bought together some of the industry’s best thinkers across the fields of architecture, art, design, planning, development, governance, sustainability and engineering.

The following video gives a quick overview of the day

We’d like to thank all the participants and the Victorian State of Design Festival. For those who would like to participate in next year’s event, please email us.

Unguarded Moments: Linking People and Place
Tuesday 13 September, 2011

Those residing in Sydney have enjoyed the beginning of the Art & About program for 2011. One of the key installations is Unguarded Moments, which involves large-scale photographs projected directly onto the built environment around Millers Point. The format of the exhibition acknowledges the two-way nature of our interactions between art and place. One of the features is a flickr page, where people can upload their own imagery from the time.

Credit goes to the City of Sydney for their support of the program and Michael Killalea from Killanoodle for his creative direction.

Garage Sale Trail

Thursday 14 April, 2011

In yet another sign that people are taking charge of their own communities, Garage Sale Trail was held over the weekend to an overwhelming response. Importantly the event attracted corporate and government sponsorship giving it the financial support to be a truly national event. Place Associates especially like Stockland’s advice on ‘Building Better Communities’.

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Surry Hills: Precinct Brand
Tuesday 28 December, 2010

Sydney’s inner-city neighbourhood of Surry Hills offers an array of hospitality, leisure and retail experiences. Businesses within this precinct along with the Sydney City Council have banded together for Christmas 2010. This approach makes logical business sense: the more diverse the offering, the longer someone will stay and the more they will spend. Over the coming years this trend in precinct branding will counter the impact of larger purpose-built retail centres and allow defined areas to be seen as unified offers.

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Financial Times Travel Guides
Tuesday 28 December, 2010

Respected UK-based publication, The Financial Times (FT) has launched its own range of offline and online travel guides. Starting with China (Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing) and South East Asia (Singapore and Bangkok), the guides provide all the required information while showcasing some of the region’s latest offerings.

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Place Associates in the AFR
Tuesday 28 December, 2010

Last week Place Associates were featured in the Traveller section of Life&Leisure. The questions were focused on some of the best global destination experiences across hotels, hospitality and airlines.

The article can be downloaded here: AFR_Traveller

Destination Branding: San Pellegrino Terme
Tuesday 12 October, 2010

Some products and brands have a strong connection with a specific place: think Guinness in Dublin and numerous fashion houses in Milan. They all state their identity on a connection between their brand and the associations and experience we have to a particular country, region or city. Now it seems San Pellegrino is tapping into the possibilities of place branding by creating a new identity system for the brand’s spiritual home in the Northern Italian province of Bergamo. A global competition for emerging designers was held – the finalists capture the essence of this region through their flexible and layered brand identity systems.

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Rebranding Britain
Wednesday 2 October, 2010

As Monocle (Sept. 10) recently pondered, ‘is it time Britain receives more than a nip and tuck?’ Riding high on Olympics' success five years ago, ever since the nation has been falling behind in global preference in three key areas: finance, government and travel. Firstly, the country has been hit heavily by the GFC, shaking its otherwise stoic resilience. Not helping matters was the prolonged election process, which arrived at a less than symbiotic coalition. Topping matters off was last year’s admission that national carrier, British Airways, was on the brink of bankruptcy. The UK’s image has gone through a period of negative association and we’re not even counting that little issue of BP in the Gulf of Mexico!

The UK has a wealth of riches, but like any nation needs to sell itself to engage with a global audience. It requires a delicate balance of highlight the positive while address the negative. Monocle has summarised the five steps to national nirvana: be clear about what brand UK stands for; make sure the nation and the world understand and believe it; don’t pile up your plate with more than you can handle; cut a faster dash on the world stage; and finally, catch more admiring glances.

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Detroit: Rising from the Ashes
Friday 22 August, 2010

It would appear Detroit is on everyone’s agenda with the direction of this Mid-West city finally changing. Gone are the days of population loss, Detroit is repositioning itself as a creative and artistic hub. But similar to the re-emergence of SoHo in the 1960s, it is more by good fortune than good planning. It is apparent that the large swathes of disused space and buildings are finding use with the artistic and creative community. As one promoter in the Johnny Knoxville documentary points out, ‘what other city in the world would give a 24-year-old a nine-storey building to use for free?’. In another example, a creative outfit are transforming the abandoned Michigan Central Station Plaza into an outdoor theatre venue.

Currently available on ABC iView is a 2010 Julien Temple offering first aired on the BBC.

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Place Reinvents Punt Road
Friday 22 July, 2010

Place partnered with sister agency e2 to hold a reinvention workshop for Melbourne’s troubled Punt Road. In the four-hour session, six separate groups tackled specific sections of the notorious eyesore. The resulting design directions were as varied as the experience of the participants. Naturally, some groups proposed a cut-and-cover approach to concealment. While others confidently rediverted traffic creating human-scale develop. All of the six groups created thought-provoking suggestions to improve the visual aesthetic and design function of this much-maligned stretch of road. With government and development stakeholders present, it is hoped that the workshop will lead to a deliberate and planned approached to reinvigorate Punt Road.

Place is planning another workshop in Sydney in 2011. This time we’ll tackle the monster of all eyesores: Parramatta Road. If you’d like to be involved, send us an email:

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Timor: The Emerging Destination
Thursday 3 July, 2010

It would appear that East Timor has started the long road towards establishing itself as a travel destination. Only three hours from Singapore and five from the Australian East Coast, the world’s youngest nation has received a lifeline in the form of its own airline. Air Timor runs twice weekly flights from Singapore to the unspoit island. In the future, the airline plans to increase services from Australia and Hong Kong. Typically, air services mark the first step in an island’s renewal; local services and hotel quality will start improving as a result. The main selling points centre on the quality of the diving and adventure pursuits. Considering the lack of boutique estabishments, our suggestion is for Air Timor to own and operate a guest house to ensure premium travellers are given an experience they would expect. Something like The Pavilion in Phnom Penh.

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