Retail, Leisure & Tourism, Waterside
Lend Lease Projects Ltd

Europe’s largest new build retail

The opening of Bluewater, Kent, UK established Benoy as a world leader in Retail Design.

Set in an exhausted chalk quarry, surrounded by lakes and parkland, Bluewater’s scheme represents a generational leap in the sector. 
Completely rethinking what a
major retail destination could be, Bluewater is widely recognised as a benchmark in international shopping mall design.

The development remains one of Europe’s largest new build retail and leisure destinations. The scheme 140,000m² of Retail with an additional 12,000m² devoted to Leisure and Entertainment. The development also offers plenty of parking for visitors with space for 13,000 cars.

Rethinking The Destination

Bluewater was one of the first shopping centres to view its customers as ‘Guests’, and has centred its design on comfort and clarity for the guest experience.

Extensive research and testing resulted in the non-linear shape of the development, a unique approach at the time. By designing a triangular layout, Bluewater was able to accommodate the surrounding area, increasing parking and access points whilst also providing a diverse retail space with improved guest experience and leisure components.

The layout also ensures the shopping and wayfinding journey is easy and intuitive to navigate, with anchor stores at each apex. Concierge Desks have been located throughout Bluewater with hosts on hand to greet, assist and inform guests about where to shop, eat and relax.

As the location was not a normal shopping site, how to entice guests to travel to Bluewater underpinned the design.  Leisure and Entertainment programmes were introduced to create a full day-out experience. As such, the destination has a lively restaurant, bar and dining scene, cinemas and generous landscaped areas.

Site Design

Surrounded by 50m high cliffs and more than 20ha of lakes and parkland, the development of Bluewater faced both challenges and opportunities within the site.

The large lakes on site were leftover from the old mining days of the chalk quarry. While wishing to preserve these waterbodies to enhance the development’s design, the position of the lakes posed a problem with the agreed triangular shape of the new scheme. Significant in its undertaking, the lakes were repositioned on site and so allowed the design of Bluewater to give them a new lease of life as part of the retail and leisure environment.