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Property and Place: A New Development Agenda

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With over half the global population now living in cities, how we conceive and deliver places needs to change.

As New South Wales appoints a minister for place and has signalled its intention to be the number one state in the world for place-driven planning, it’s become clear that place is top of the agenda for government and developers alike.

“The same quantum shifts we’ve seen in other sectors around purpose and values is now happening in property, with human-centred design shifting to the forefront of places,” head of the newly-launched Frost Place Cat Burgess said.

Developers are realising that the old “build it and they will come” philosophy doesn’t work in tighter and more competitive markets. This is as true for commercial property as it is for residential.

The property sector is embracing place visioning and branding as the magic ingredient for more successful developments. By setting the agenda from the very beginning on a big idea and experience outcomes, differentiation and value is hardwired in, making developments easier to sell or lease.

Putting people at the centre of its brand has given John Holland a compelling point of difference as well as a greater sense of purpose.
Putting people at the centre of its brand has given John Holland a compelling point of difference as well as a greater sense of purpose.


Frost Place is the latest addition to Frost*collective, a strategic creative group dedicated to designing a better world through human-centred design.

Its goal is to design experiences that enrich lives by combining specialist skills to tackle complex challenges and drive superior results. Its end-to-end capabilities are unique in the Australian market, also spanning way-finding, placemaking, digital experiences and activations.

It builds on more than 30 years of Frost*collective being at forefront of creating place brands, marketing, signage and experiences for transformational locations including Central Park, Quay Quarter, the newly-launched South Eveleigh, as well as projects in China, Hong Kong, Seoul and Kuala Lumpur.

Creating a seamless process between the vision, branding, marketing and activation of places — so that same the cohesive narrative drives the development of the project, marketing and actual place experience — is becoming increasingly critical, especially for large projects with broad and diverse project teams and a large number of consultants.

The vision and brand acts like glue to ensure that everyone’s aligned from conception to completion.

New technologies and out-of-the-box thinking are critical for reaching attention-poor markets
New technologies and out-of-the-box thinking are critical for reaching attention-poor markets


“Bringing a human-centred design approach to projects is all about supporting the success of entrepreneurs looking to create outstanding places,” Burgess said.

“For example, our recent work with Astra Aerolab in Newcastle has not only helped them to create a development based around its future users, it’s also given them a much more powerful story for attracting tenants and championing more innovative and sustainable outcomes.”

“Our process covered creating user personas so that there could be a true understanding of their wants and needs that was translated into place and experience principles.

“Our global benchmarking highlighted areas of disruption and innovation in terms of place thinking that could make Astra a global talent magnet,” Burgess said.

“Knowing that the best place strategies draw out an area’s identity, heritage and culture – as well as a vision for the future – we worked with local stakeholders to leverage the Hunter’s unique beauty and lifestyle into the place vision.”

By behaving like a lifestyle brand Macquarie Square has achieved better commercial returns
By behaving like a lifestyle brand Macquarie Square has achieved better commercial returns


Representing and including communities is fundamental in determining what a place can stand for and enriching how it sees itself to strengthen its own culture and identity, especially when it comes to working with established destinations.

“The right place brand can be incredibly empowering and needs to be more than a description of physical characteristics. For example, when we worked with Canterbury-Bankstown, we created the idea ‘Where Interesting Happens’ to translate its diverse multi-cultural community into a reason to visit or live there.”

“This same style of thinking for North Sydney helped shift the dial from people thinking it was a dull, grey and boring place, to 81 per cent of people recommending it and 72 per cent of people feeling it is more lively within just 12 months,” Burgess said.

Raising a smile for Redfern – the turnaround of Redfern as a thriving destination is evidence of the growing importance of place branding.
Raising a smile for Redfern – the turnaround of Redfern as a thriving destination is evidence of the growing importance of place branding.


Creativity also has a big role to play in the success of our future places, as time poor and device-addicted markets need out-of-box thinking to get their attention.

The new Frost Place team draws on experience of working with leading brands such as Google, Spotify and Nike to help champion a move away from well-worn category clichés.

“From residential developments that sell out in two hours to helping clients achieve the highest commercial leases in Australia, the era of combining place vision, a powerful brand narrative and outstanding creativity has well and truly begun,” Burgess said.

Click here to see more examples of new thinking in places.


The Urban Developer is proud to partner with Frost*collective to deliver this article to you. In doing so, we can continue to publish our free daily news, information, insights and opinion to you, our valued readers.

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Article originally posted at: https://theurbandeveloper.com/articles/the-new-era-of-place