Anchor institutions and tenants
We believe that a precinct needs a key economic driver in order to grow and thrive. Large precincts with high productivity and economic output are centred on well-established institutions or industries, referred to as anchors. These anchors act as catalysers for the growth and development of the precinct, providing significant economic output and access to jobs and services for the community in and around them.
In smaller precincts, there may not be an obvious anchor, so we need to consider what might activate the precinct. For example, large retail can play a significant role in defining and driving precincts, influential commercial tenants might drive the influx of other businesses, or cultural facilities could attract residents and tourists.
In addition to having a clearly identified economic driver, successful precincts also provide infrastructure and housing to support those living and working in these anchor institutions, helping to deliver on the agreed objectives and success indicators for the overall precinct.
Precincts not only need to provide functionality but must also stand as identifiable urban centres. The ‘branding’ of a precinct can be as important as the physical assets. What attracts people to a precinct? What do they identify with the precinct? Is the precinct a destination? Is the precinct legible?
Focal points can be created by iconic structures or an attractive offering such as retail or open space, as well as stand-out functional features such as transit hubs. For example, Circular Quay boasts the Opera House, the most iconic structure in Australia; Sydney’s Surry Hills provides the largest rail network at Central Station; Brisbane’s South Bank showcases the arts with the cluster of GOMA, Queensland Art Gallery, QPAC, the State Library and the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre; Elizabeth Quay enjoys a vast multi-purpose waterfront park. These focal points are an important part of each precinct’s identity and success.
A precinct needs to consider the existing industry mix and the potential for economic growth and productivity. How well the key industries provide for the precinct and interact with the rest of the precinct is essential. Where a particular industry has the potential to provide a strong anchor, we need to consider how it can be enhanced in the strategic phases of precinct development, considering complementary industries and supply chain,to further enhance the anchor industry's productivity.
Cambridge innovation district
Cambridge’s iconic innovation district centres on the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT). While the campus already occupied a
significant geographical area, it sought to partner with the commercial
sector and private institutions to develop and nurture innovation and
collaboration – 80 organisations have formed the Kendall Square
Association to share the vision and planning for the area.
The Cambridge Innovation Center provides shared spaces for startups
and venture capital firms, promoting collaborative working.
Additionally, the award-winning “@Kendall Square” development
offers a mixed use “live, work, play” community with recreation,
markets, offices, labs, residential and retail spaces.
The involvement, presence and collaboration of MIT has led to the
growth of a number of industries within Cambridge, as well as led
to the provision of residential housing. The precinct has encouraged
entrepreneurs and start-ups through the Cambridge Innovation
Center, while also attracting large tech companies including Google,
Apple, Microsoft and Amazon.
With the growing presence of students, graduates, academics and
high-profile companies, residential accommodation has become a
necessity, allowing for these individuals to live, work and study within
this district. Since 2005, 1000 new residential housing units have been
built, with retail and food outlets to support this population.