ACROSS: THE AWARDS MADE A REMARKABLE COMEBACK AFTER TWO YEARS: WHAT IS THE MESSAGE OF THE ECSP DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT AWARDS BEYOND WINNING AND CELEBRATING?
CHRISTOPH ANDEXLINGER: Shopping centers were and are meeting places. They are important meeting points for the community and are constantly evolving. It is precisely this new and further development that the ECSP Design and Development Award focuses on and shows a broad audience how these were implemented. In particular, it is about documenting and appreciating the high-quality standards of the industry. In this year’s new edition, sustainability is – once more – particularly important. Sustainability has been a key topic in our industry for decades and will be the industry’s primary concern. That is why it is important to show and award good examples from which the industry can learn.
ACROSS: WHAT CAN THE SHOPPING CENTER COMMUNITY LEARN FROM THE AWARDS AND PROJECTS?
ANDEXLINGER: Shopping centers bear a great deal of responsibility. And so do the ECSP Design and Development Award because they honor the best projects. Shopping centers are so much more than shopping places. New projects develop living spaces, create meeting places, secure jobs, and are responsible for economic success. It is becoming increasingly important to think as a community. Our industry is no longer about the shopping center itself; the environment and the people have to be considered. The topic of sustainability is an example: Our buildings must also be usable and attractive for future generations.
ACROSS: LET US TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT THE DESIGN AWARD WINNERS AND ENTRIES THEMSELVES: WHAT IMPRESSED AND SURPRISED YOU THE MOST?
ANDEXLINGER: We had to pause the awards for four years. It has been a difficult time for the industry, with many setbacks and changes. It was, therefore, quite surprising that there was so much interest in the awards after these years. But it is precisely this interest that shows how much is happening in the sector and how important it is to present good examples.
ACROSS: WHAT WAS THE OVERALL QUALITY OF ENTRIES LIKE?
Andexlinger: The entries were all of a very high standard. The concepts were all exciting – not just the final winners. The diversity was also impressive because they set very different priorities.
ACROSS: WHAT WERE, ACCORDING TO YOU, THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGES ALL THE PROJECTS HAD TO DEAL WITH IN THE LAST YEARS, AND HOW DID THEY FIND ANSWERS?
Andexlinger: It was very impressive to see that almost all shopping centers found new ways and approaches to get out of the difficult situation of the last years. The restrictions during the pandemic have led to significant challenges, especially in terms of footfall, for the entire industry. What all shopping centers and the projects submitted for the award have in common is that they make significant contributions to strengthening stationary retail. This was all the truer for new and yet-to-be-established projects.
ACROSS: WHAT INNOVATIVE APPROACHES DID YOU SEE?
Andexlinger: We have exciting application examples of the “5th facade” in various projects. This has sometimes been neglected in the past. The entries included very high-quality food and beverage areas, but we also saw examples that did a lot to optimize energy consumption – which was very much in line with our sustainability criterion.
ACROSS: WHAT ARE ECSPS’ PLANS FOR FURTHER AWARDS? ARE THE DESIGN AWARDS WITH THIS GREAT CELEBRATION IN 2023 BACK FOR GOOD?
Andexlinger: The ECSP Design and Development Awards are here to stay. They are a high-quality and highly valued indicator and source of information for the industry. And this is more important than ever, especially in uncertain times and times of change.