Project profile: Chapman Taylor Paris Director Nicolas Guillot talks about the design and creation of the very successful Shopping Promenade Coeur Picardie in Amiens, France

We decided to add lots of leisure facilities and playgrounds, making it a very family-orientated project

Q&A with Chapman Taylor Paris Director Nicolas Guillot

Shopping Promenade Coeur Picardie opened its doors on Thursday 19th October, 2017, and has been a considerable success since then.

The much-anticipated 40,000m² development for Frey Group in the commercial area of north Amiens offers more than 40 retail outlets and F&B offerings, including well-known names such as Mango, Armand Thiery and KFC. A food space includes a locally-popular bakery and butcher’s shop.

The centre also provides a free day-care section to entertain children between three and ten years old, as well as two large play areas for smaller children, so that their parents can enjoy the shopping experience.

Chapman Taylor was responsible for the design of this large shopping and relaxation space, and Paris Director Nicolas Guillot speaks to us here about his experience of the project.

Tell us about how the project came about

The original brief from Frey Group was to develop something like a classic retail park, but they then decided to turn the project into something much more like an American-style lifestyle centre. Traditional retail parks are limited in what they offer, while classic shopping centre design has become dated and unpopular. Frey wanted us to create a new type of retail-led environment which offered much more than either, both commercially and in terms of how attractive the shopping environment would be. We decided to set about designing an open, mixed-use, family-friendly retail destination which would represent something entirely new in France.

It is expected that up to six million customers will visit within the first year. Turnover for every shop in the complex is much higher than anticipated.

American-style lifestyle inspired.

Describe the social and geographic context

Amiens is between Paris and Lille, about 160km to the north of Paris. It is a largely industrial area heavily impacted by the economic crisis of recent years. The population is somewhere in the region of 200,000. The site is at the northern limit of the city, but is well served by the ring road around Amiens.

Before this development, the northern sector was not the most active area for retail, as most of shopping activities were located in the centre and south of the city. This new development has created a new retail balance across the urban district.

Where did you start?

We kept the original masterplan for the site and kept the U-shaped layout, with a car park in the middle surrounded by shop units. We wanted to create a new atmosphere, however, akin to a village or town centre feel. Each shop unit was therefore designed to be unique, with each façade having its own design, using different materials. We mainly used bricks because the city of Amiens is largely brick-built, but with varying colours and with timber cladding (especially for the mid-sized units).

The original mall-type design was changed to make it much more like a street, with a lot of animation incorporated. We decided to add lots of leisure facilities and playgrounds, making it a very family-orientated project.

Why is this development different?

It is a novel and innovative concept in the French market – it is not common to find open, mixed-use developments of this sort in France. There is a lot of uncertainty at the moment in the French retail sector, much like in the UK, with the challenge of internet shopping and so on, but Shopping Promenade Coeur Picardie has been a huge success since opening, surpassing the client’s expectations. They feel that this is a new departure, something which they hadn’t seen before –a family-friendly environment around open-air streets, rather than an enclosed standalone building.

Shopping Promenade Coeur Picardie represents an investment of €50 million

What were the challenges faced?

The construction environment was not very different from a typical retail park, meaning that costs were relatively low (less than €900 per square metre, including the car park, public realm and landscape). It’s also a development based on simple steel structures, which is quite easy to achieve. The main challenge was in creating different identities for the various shops and shopfronts – we wanted to combine the simplicity of the construction with vitality in the façades. The atmosphere created is not like that of a large monolithic building, but rather as if the shop units were added to each other organically.

We also created a route through the development where points of interest can be found every 10 metres, such as fountains, playgrounds, plants etc. We have planted hundreds of trees, some of which are 12 metres high, which gives the impression of a mature development which has been here for decades. We feel we met our design challenge very well – creating something very different from the typical retail park.


How has the development been received by retailers, customers and locals?

The response from customers has been overwhelmingly positive. Generally, typical retail parks have typical retail park brands, and are not as successful as conventional closed shopping centres. However, Shopping Promenade Coeur Picardie has experienced much more footfall than expected in the opening three months, with a substantial increase in traffic in the district. Brands which have traditionally only been interested in locating in town and city centres or conventional shopping centres, such as Mango, have been very attracted to this new type of retail development – the environment is much more attractive, while rents and service charges are much cheaper.

There were in the region of half a million customers within the first three weeks, and there is now an expectation of up to six million customers within the first year. Everybody was extremely pleased – the turnover for every shop in the complex is much higher than was expected by them.

For this size of city, an out-of-town retail-led development such as this might often be perceived as a threat to retail in the city centre, but we believe that the offer is very different, and that rather than being in competition, it complements the city centre offer very well. The city is very happy with the project – it has created up to 400 new jobs in an economically challenged region.

Shopping Promenade Claye-Souilly is due to start onsite in Q2 2018

What do you take most satisfaction from now that the project has been opened?

I think that it is a question of atmosphere – we really wanted to create a town centre atmosphere even though the project is at the edge of town, and we feel that we have done that really well. I went back to visit the development on a rainy and cold Tuesday in January, and it was full of people – the car park was 80% full in the middle of the day and the restaurant I visited was full as well. The architecture of the development is one of the key elements of that success, and I am very, very proud of that.

What next?

We are developing a second shopping development for Frey Group much like this one near Paris – Shopping Promenade Claye-Souilly. Full construction works are to begin in April. We will be looking to use a very similar concept, though adapted to a different context, to achieve a similar level of success.

Several large shopping centres have been opened in France in recent years, but few have been very successful because they are designed in the old monolithic way – enclosed and with little mix of uses. People are tired of this type of project, which is why they have responded so well to our fresh and different concept. This is why Frey Group have put their trust in Chapman Taylor.

Key facts:

Services: Architecture, Interiors

Clients: Frey Group

Area: 40,000m² GBA

Status: Opened in October 2017

Nicolas Guillot (Dip Arch DESA Registered architect ‘Ordre des architectes Ile de France’)

Director, Paris

With extensive design experience leading various projects from conception through to delivery, Nicolas has managed large-scale projects across various sectors in both France and internationally.

Nicolas joined Chapman Taylor in London in 1998. He relocated to Paris in 2001 and is now the Director responsible for the general management and development of our Paris studio.

Areas of expertise:

Retail / Masterplanning

Fort d'une longue expérience en architecture à la tête de divers développements de la conception à la livraison, Nicolas a géré des projets d'envergure dans divers secteurs en France et à l'international.

Nicolas a rejoint Chapman Taylor à Londres en 1998. Il a rejoint la France en 2001 pour prendre la direction et le développement du studio parisien.

Domaine d’expertise:

Master planning / Bureaux / Logement / Commerce

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