Doncaster, VIC, Australia
Readings Doncaster is the bookstore’s first foray into a shopping centre context and as such it was vital that the store still represented the essence of Readings as everyone’s local bookshop.
The theme of pages in a book was central to the Nest Architects design, with both shopfront and arches within hinting at this notion. The key part of the brief from Readings was the challenge of ensuring their essence as an independent bookseller was maintained.
The Doncaster store was the first project in an ongoing collaboration with Readings, with the Readings Kids store opening on Lygon St a couple of months later. Over the last 2 years Nest have been working with Readings on the renovation of their main Carlton store. Originally designed by Edmond and Corrigan, it’s the first time the Melbourne institution has been renovated since it opened on the site 20 years ago. The design of the Carlton renovation takes cues from the historical context of Lygon St and looks to give Readings a timeless setting for the next 20 years of community involvement. The doors are due to open at the renovated store in July.
Using the iconic aesthetic of the tiled street shopfront, the front facade playfully uses MDF arches to suggest the theme of books, without overtly implying their status. The interior is a further play on these arches – but in purer form.
Arched bookshelves lined with rolling ladders make up the bulk of the walls in the interior, whilst the use of black laminate with American Oak highlights gives the perfect backdrop for the books. The openness in the entry zone with a large low lying domestic style table encourages the customers to wonder and really get lost in the store. The idea of reading and ‘staying a while’ is also encouraged by small private nook seats incorporated into the wall shelving, exuding a sense of generosity and intimacy and giving the feel of a local library.
The central modules can be moved around to allow the store to change through different seasons, while the low-lying nature of all the central units adds a rare openness where sightlines are constant through the space. Custom signage was designed specifically for the project, with a timeless solution being proposed that also gave the store total flexibility to rearrange stock as required.
An important mission of Readings in engaging with and educating the community. Readings Doncaster needed to capture the company’s vision of ‘feed the mind, nurture the soul’, and it needed to be a space that facilitated the community in discovering and developing a passion for books. The community focus at this ‘local’ Readings bookstore can be seen through use of cork-board throughout the store, where posters and notices are pinned up providing a link to the beginnings of Readings in the inner north of Melbourne.
It also needed to differentiate itself from the two other bookshops already operating in Westfield Doncaster. Their usual approach of book launches and author readings began in locations where there was a well-established and highly educated and literary community. This shop is designed to engage the suburbs and challenges the traditional role of the shopping centre and utilise the real estate (with all its foot traffic) as a driver for community engagement and education.
Through Nest Architects design Readings Doncaster has become more than a retail store – it has transformed into a center of community interaction and socialising.
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