Boom in leisure rubs off on retail

The boom in leisure construction is set to continue, with knock-on benefits for interior design. – The National Council of Building Material Producers is predicting the output of its 2000 member companies will rise for the next three years, approaching le

The boom in leisure construction is set to continue, with knock-on benefits for interior design.

The National Council of Building Material Producers is predicting the output of its 2000 member companies will rise for the next three years, approaching levels not reached since the peak in building activity seen in 1990.

Although housing is fuelling much increased construction, the leisure sector is on the up with entertainment projects expected to rise 19 per cent this year followed by a 17 per cent increase in 1998 and a 12 per cent jump in 1999.

Although the millennium’s Lottery-funded projects are contributors, other work is in progress, such as cinemas and theme parks.

Design is well placed to contribute to the developments in leisure, says Steve Taylor, in charge of new business at Design Clinic, the group designing Virgin’s new generation of cinemas.

“What is interesting is that there is an increasing crossover between leisure and technology, leisure and transportation, and leisure and retail. This blurring of functions is creating a lot of opportunities,” he says.

Taylor adds: “This has been talked about for ages, but now it’s happening.” Taylor says the Virgin cinemas, on which Design Clinic is working with architect Watson Design, will be “a blueprint for the cinema of the future – and so will incorporate a lot of retail”.

And as leisure operators bring in more retail thinking and facilities, so retailers are looking to bring in leisure concepts, says Taylor, who cites Frankfurt’s airport in Germany as an example of where this integration is most advanced. “I haven’t seen anything like that here, but it’s coming.”

Although welcoming the construction forecasts, Taylor says simply building new and larger versions of existing leisure destinations is not enough: “Each environment is going to need fresh thinking. That’s terrific for design, but not for all designers. Designers are going to have to learn to throw all the categories up in the air and create new concepts.”

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