The Perth DFO (Direct Factory Outlet) is a major shopping complex close to Perth city covering approximately 34,000m². The DFO brand is new to Perth but has a proven track record nationally, attracting shoppers to a range of fashion, food and retail tenancies with various food & beverage options.

The design for the Perth DFO draws inspiration from the site’s geographic location and the surrounding natural environment. Ideas of ‘flight’ inform the architecture of the building including aeronautical engineering, man-made flight and the natural flight of the local native Red-Tailed Black-Cockatoo.
Linear, bold gestures are generated from plane flight, while organic and lightweight forms evolve from natural bird flight. Externally, this approach renders an architecture of smooth sweeping lines and dark ‘feathered’ facades. The predominantly monotone palette is broken by striking orange elements reminiscent of the Cockatoo’s tail feathers. These elements also serve to delineate and demarcate the building’s form and function. This language translates into structural selections, the ceiling treatments and floor finishes, and assists with internal wayfinding. The parallels between bird and plane flight create a vibrant interface which informs the materiality, textures and patterning of the interior spaces.

The sober external skin is punctuated by subtle changes in form and patterning, as well as more dramatic portals and canopies at the primary entrances, each derived from the various metaphors and concepts of flight. The interiors were further inspired by the ‘Golden Age’ of flying in the 1950s and 60s. Sweeping lines and subtle shifts in height envelope seating elements (‘pause pods’) or points of address (customer service desk). These elements are complemented by fabrics and finishes selected to respond to the various precincts within the primary arcades.

The exceptional length of the mall space is mitigated by unusually high shopfronts supported by robust vertical steel subframes, integrated with triangular steel-pipe roof trusses. The fabricated roof trusses were rigorously tested during the design and value management phases of the project – and survived the commercial analysis to be realised as an elegant component of the completed building. A special mention to the structural engineers, BGE!

The main entrances are the product of external context and internal programming. The ribs featured on the external portals sweep into the building and weave their way through interior spaces as a recurring motif within the malls. Two oculi are located within the food and beverage precinct, one completely internalised, the other on the outer periphery of the building, merging external and internal spaces. Each of the oculi is designed to bring natural lighting and greenery into the building and provide an alternative experience to the internally focussed character and qualities of the retail arcades.

The success of the building is due in no small part to a highly collaborative design and delivery process including the client, architects, engineers and builders.