Postgraduate Profiles

Paul Drechsler

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Thesis: Place consumption in a traditional town centre and the influence of the changing nature of retail activity over time

Traditional town centres, such as Subiaco in Western Australia, are experiencing dramatic change in response to the advent of disruptive technologies, which have directed retail consumption away from physical platforms to online shopping environments. To compete, town centres like Subiaco must re-invent themselves in order to maintain their competitive position. One way of accomplishing this is to focus consumers on the quality of the physical place, in contrast to the non-place alternative offered by the online shopping environment.

This thesis uses mixed method research techniques to determine the nature of place consumption over time. As a proxy for consumption activity, the thesis examines the changing nature of retail activity since the town centre’s establishment in the late nineteenth century. This utilises historic land use data gathered from secondary data sources. The thesis then investigates current place consumption in Subiaco using phenomenological techniques, particularly hermeneutic methods. Finally, a study of place attachment using primary research methods will be undertaken.

Why my research is important

The intention of the research is to ascertain the ‘platiality’ of the physical town centre environment in contrast to the ‘non-platiality’ of cyberspace. Professions engaged in place-making and town centre development should find this research useful as an aid to attract and retain consumers of places and for enabling town centres to reassert their position as the dominant site of retail consumption.