Product Design Manager of Nivy Station: Focusing on customer satisfaction make retailers satisfied
What local residents of Bratislava see now is the biggest construction site in Central Europe, but many years ago, at the very beginning, there was a unique concept of a new place of international importance. Michal Ráchela, Product Design Manager of Nivy Station, spoke to us about design, custom made solutions and how to make people spend more time in shopping centres without messing with their orientation.
Every solution has to be unified and coordinated
For Michal, to be in charge of the right design solutions means more than just making sure the building looks pretty from the outside. Here, with the word design we mean the unification of visual and logistic solutions and the coordination of architects and suppliers. His position is focused on design and concept compliance and fulfilling the standards of modern meeting and shopping points.
Making tens of thousands of people get lost in 100,000 sq m of retail area isn’the way we do things
When all the older shopping centres in Bratislava were being built, it was standard to make it hard to get to another level without crossing the whole shopping area. The principles of designing these kinds of centres have changed and now it is crucial for customers to be able to orientate themselves and get anywhere quickly. While older shopping centres now need to be reconstructed, we predicted 7 years ago that this was going to change. The times when you get some random new customers because they were just walking by hoping to find the closest escalator or exit are over.
There are many better ways to make sure that customers spend more time at Nivy Station, and one of the most important aspects is – contrary to older beliefs – a good orientation system. This is provided by easy-to-notice horizontal and vertical connections and passages.
“We didn’t want to build artificial barriers. We tried to bring as much light and air into the interior as possible. As an architect I have to be sure that people are able to orientate there in a natural, intuitive way. From every point it should be clear where you are and where you can continue. There is no need to confuse or mislead the travellers, commuters and our potential customers. They should be naturally motivated to get all their errands done as fast as possible and then spend the rest of their time as they want. The question in the customer’s head should not be “Why is it so hard to get to the food court?” but “Why is it so hard to choose where to eat from these tens of perfect restaurants?“
In combination with intuitive signs and city lights, which we are co-operating on with Space Agency, an expert in airport navigation, we guarantee that nobody will get lost here.
Guaranteed footfall for big players and local heroes
With tens of thousands of people daily walking to one or more of the platforms, there is a big need for a logical configuration of platforms: the bus station underground, the common services above it, the fashion, the food court and the leisure zone on the green roof.
“Our aim is to make our biggest retailers confident to open their flagships in here. We aspire to be a good neighbour to our surroundings: open to all communities from the nearby residential area and willing to take part in making the connection between us easy and natural.
Compromise means perfection
Two types of architects work on projects like this – conceptual architects responsible for the idea and the overall appearance and a then a local architect whose job it isto ensure all the local laws and restrictions are respected. The closer to finishing the building, the more responsibility lies on the local architect, but the conceptual one is still present.
Nivy Station wants to be a pleasant place for people who travel through it or just want to fulfil their everyday needs. This requires well-arranged circulation of people, easy-to-supply retail zones, placement of mobile and fixed kiosks, recycle bins and much more. All of these solutions are being chosen by experienced experts in various fields.
Predicting the future with custom-made solutions
What else makes this place so special? It is its unique position just a few minutes’ walk from the city centre, the connections of a bus station, a shopping complex, a big mercadostyle fresh market and an unprecedented green roof open year around.
“In past years we predicted that this area might get to become the new downtown full of skyscrapers and business opportunities. Being responsible for such a project which will change the face of the city for many years to come is quite a commitment.
We also knew that shopping centres as we know them today will transform into something more like life-style centres – shopping would not be the No. 1 thing to do in complex buildings such as this one. While other shopping centres are going to be transformed in the near future, we predicted it and planned an environment that will meet the standards of a life-style centre of the near future.
We consider the employees of our retailers as the most valuable element in the whole environment, so we took special care in creating a background area for them to have a comfortable place to change clothes or just have a rest.“
Being private yet serving the public
“We don’t forget that we are becoming a living part of the city and public, so our effort is to become a place where you can get everything done but have fun as well. We intend to be a new touristic and leisure spot where you can buy a steak on the ground floor and then grill it right on the roof thanks to a rent-a-grill service.
Stanica Nivy is a multifunctional project which will permanently change the customer experience in Bratislava. For us, it is important to make sure people don’t just learn the one exact way from their bus out of the station, but are able to wander around and know where they are all the time.”
Satisfied customers make satisfied retailers and that is what proves that we made the right choices during the design process.
Any other questions about Stanica Nivy? Feel free to contact us.