Defining a new language and approach for the out-of-town retail outlet is not easy, especially when located in the Republic of San Marino – an area so strongly characterized by its history and natural beauty. In addition, we must also not forget that even before the pandemic the shopping landscape within the world of retail was changing with massive changes in consumer behaviour, as such the concept of the “outlet” need to adapt to a not only host and sell products, but to also provide a positive environment and flexible spaces to give visitors a day-off experience. This was the challenge given to One Works as the architectural designers behind San Marino Outlet Experience.
The other key challenge was to provide a new sustainable complex that has been designed to not only meet shopping demand but will also work with the historical and landscape constraints of the area. For this reason, the initial stages of design development included a detailed preliminary study to clearly define development guidelines of infrastructures and the management of transport connections and people flows with the territory and within the new destination.
As a key tourist and commercial destination measuring 25,000sqm of sales area to accommodate 130 retail units and 8 restaurants, the San Marino Outlet Experience will also act as a catalyst for local growth, and a key driver of the local, regional, and national economies with the creation of over 400 new jobs and improvements with local infrastructure.
A DESIGN DEFINED BY THE TERRITORY
The genesis of the project took off from the studio with the local character and context staying central to the design. Located at the foot of the hillside, the new complex was defined by the hilly topography of the area and uses the hillside to create a "vertical" complex. Terraced parking lots follow the terrains natural profile and the interior pedestrian path winds following a slight slope diagonally across the hillside. In respecting the geography, the Outlet takes the form of a figure of eight with a slight 2.5% inclined path allowing all visitors to easily flow through the space, whilst optimizing commercial opportunities. Considered an unusual solution for the design of a commercial space, this approach allows visitors to still clearly read the site topography whilst drastically reducing the overall building footprint.
Using a set of place-making principles, the heart of the project is undoubtedly the numerous social spaces available for shoppers and visitors. Located on various levels, three main public squares are connected to each other through staircases and lifts, and represent the contemporary approach of this shopping outlet:
1. The Welcome Plaza - an open-air entrance hall, characterized by green islands with seats and ample space, welcomes visitors and transports them along the path between the various shops.
2. Food and Entertainment - a split level plaza where green areas, water games and paved areas alternate, and overlooked by the main Food & Entertainment services.
3. The Garden - a space dedicated to the rest and relaxation of visitors entering the centre, characterized by a beautiful landscaping and bespoke furniture for relaxing.
As the point of arrival and departure, these urban interventions are not only rest areas but common spaces that majorly contribute to creating a positive visitor experience, as well as provide flexible spaces suitable for hosting events.
TRADITION AND INNOVATION OF THE URBAN FORM
The public realm on which the buildings overlook and have access, undoubtedly, is where the shopping experience is shared most. In this context, the size, material, and articulation of the buildings are a fundamental element of this new luxury destination. While respecting the specific functional needs, the volumes have been calibrated to maintain a certain degree of homogeneity, as well as introducing variations in layout, materials, and volumetric profile so no façade is the same.
Three diverse materials including sea stone and aluminium make up the facades, each differentiated through perforations, reliefs, and multiple patterns enriching the overall architectural language as visitors flow through. In addition to the change of materials, the external facade facing the valley has further volumetric demarcations through slight deviations between the various parts. This arrangement emphasizes the impressive nature of the Outlet and allows both natural and artificial light to vibrate the facade along its entire length.
In addition to a series of metal panels, some buildings along the route are covered with fibre-reinforced concrete panels (GRFC) with natural aggregates achieve colours that would usually be experienced in nearby historical villages. These facades are also enriched by with patterned perforations that are revealed in the evening by artificial light.
Continuing to respect the territory through the Outlets design, the car parks have been located underground and the service areas have been arranged to follow the profile of the surrounding hills, thus concealing the real dimensions of the project from the eye of locals.
As with many new developments, a great deal of attention was given to the architectural details and functional solutions in relation to sustainability standards, both in terms of the construction process and in terms of the life of the building once completed. In terms of environmental sustainability, we highlight the use of LED lighting systems and the installation of a photovoltaic system capable of generating over 300 MWh per year, equal to 38% of the total needs of the common parts, elements that have positively contributed to the granting of BREEAM certification, the international protocol for building sustainability.
The Outlet is also equipped with a covered parking area with 1,400 spaces, with direct access to the centre via dedicated lifts, and an outdoor area reserved for electric vehicles equipped with 38 charging stations available free of charge.
One Works is a global design and consultancy firm offering an integrated approach to architecture, infrastructure and urban engineering. We believe in creating intuitive and sustainable places where people and communities can connect with their environment, and with each other.
Our design practice, primarily based in Italy, is guided by four key principles: Collaboration, Commitment, Innovation and Sustainability. With these principles at the core of everything we do, we have built a strong international reputation for the quality of our designs, our attention to detail and the strength of our delivery on projects relating to transportation to real estate.
We are a team of diverse personalities, each with unique skills, years of experience and a passion for what we do. Over the years, we have grown long-term relationships with government departments and small enterprises alike, which we believe, is a testament to the success of our unique and carefully crafted approach.