Wollert Neighbourhood Centre by OMA

OMA unveils rural culture complex for Melbourne's outskirts

A mix of retail and cultural facilities will make up the Wollert Neighbourhood Centre, which OMA has proposed for the town of Whittlesea, Australia.

The countryside complex has been designed by OMA as a "social condenser" for the area, which is located 25-kilometres north of Melbourne.

OMA founder Rem Koolhaas recently curated an exhibition aiming "to put the countryside on the agenda again" at New York's Guggenheim museum.

Alongside shops, the Wollert Neighbourhood Centre will include childcare, entertainment and cultural amenities to meet the needs of the entire suburban community.

Wollert Neighbourhood Centre by OMA

"We conceived the Wollert Neighbourhood Centre as social infrastructure where retail and social interaction weigh equal," said OMA's regional director Paul Jones.

"Existing community activity centres in Wollert’s surrounding areas, separated from retail programs, are often under utilised. They fail to bring the community together," Jones continued.

"Our design weaves together retail, amenity and cultural spaces for use by people in the community with different needs. It will be a social condenser in the area."

Once complete, Wollert Neighbourhood Centre will encompass 9,000 square metres. As the project is at concept stage, its materiality is yet to be determined.

It will have a rectangular and "utilitarian form" that wraps around a giant open courtyard at its centre.

This courtyard will contain an amphitheatre for community events alongside public outdoor space.

To ensure it is accessible, OMA will position multiple entrances across the building's elongated facade that offer direct access to the courtyard as well as inside the building.

Wollert Neighbourhood Centre by OMA

Inside, the rest of the building's facilities will be arranged by OMA in vertical zones to evoke a barcode.

These will include retail, entertainment and childcare programmes and according to the studio they will all place an emphasis on health and wellbeing.

Wollert Neighbourhood Centre will be complete by an accessible roof that will be developed into areas dedicated to sports and outdoor activities.

As the scheme develops, OMA also hopes the rooftop will also provide space for urban agriculture.

Wollert Neighbourhood Centre was commissioned by the Australian retail developer Sandhurst Retail. It responds to recent development in the town that is seeing a growing number of homes.

According to OMA, the complex is hoped to become the centre of a wider masterplan for the area, which is in one of Victoria's fastest growing regions.

Founded in 1975 by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, OMA is a Dutch architecture studio with offices in Rotterdam, Hong Kong, Beijing, New York, Dubai, Doha and Sydney. The studio's name is an acronym for Office for Metropolitan Architecture.

Other recent projects by the studio include proposals for a residential Wafra Tower in Kuwait City, and "cliff-like" headquarters for SNCB in Brussels.


Project credits:

Architect: OMA
Regional director: Paul Jones
Project architects: Clare Johnston Team: Fedor Medek, Marcus Parviainen
Supervising partner: David Gianotten
Project manager: Case Meallin