design with a business view

  1. Design audit

    Joint analysis with the owner of urban development, legal, financial, commercial and other constraints. Support to the preparation of a commercial program to guide the project.
  2. Pre concept design

    Preparation of design solutions, identifying alternatives.
  3. Support to feasibility analysis

    Selection and development of one or more solutions and preparation of drawings, area maps and other information for the analysis of the financial feasibility of the project.
  4. Concept design

    To plan creative and innovative building design solutions.
  5. Design development

    To turn ideas into buildings and spaces that meet the needs of clients and their communities assessingt alternative solutions for the design when required.
  6. Support to leasing and construction

    Assessment and evaluation of construction and design solutions proposed by third parties.


Flores do Maio

Cape Verde

Flores do Maio

A joint venture of italian investors entered a public international competition for the acquisition of XXXXX of land in the Cape Verdean isle of Maio.

The land is part of a total area of 770 hectares, of which three quarters hectares are intended for tourism occupation and one quarter for environmental and landscape protection.

The investors appointed MARIO SANTOS STRATEGIC DESIGN CONSULTANT to assist them in the negotiation process and provide all the necessary information for the competition master plan and assistance to the feasibility analysis, including creating an identity and presenting the project to the Prime Minister and Governmental Agencies of Cape Verde as well as other potential international investors and press.

The beautiful landscape and variety of situations that the context offers justifies adopting a high quality standard, with a low density rate and an equilibrium in terms of products that include attractive facilities and top end hotel units.

Flores do Maio will be an important development driver for the island, creating jobs and business opportunities for both locals and newcomers.

The team focused on identifying the best ways of enhancing the local culture and provide the community the best possible benefits of this investment, within the frame of the responsible tourism values.

Flores do Maio will pursue the objectives of the Ministery of Economy, Growth and Competivity regarding the absolute need of reducing dependence on fossil energy sources by creating the conditions that allow implementation of alternative energy systems.

The team believes this can be achieved along three main directions:

- by creating rain water retention devices, and planting low maintenance vegetal species, therefore reducing the need for the production of desalinized water and respective energy bill;

- by creating shaded landscaped spaces protected from the wind and implementing systems of natural ventilation, thus reducing the energy bill of air conditioning;

- by creating diversified interesting outdoor spaces, inviting to walk and ride a bike around instead of using a car. Also, by creating the infrastructures that will allow the use of electrical means of transport charged from solar or wind energy sources, thus reducing the mobility energy bill.

Due to its unique location, all the villas and hotel rooms will have a breathtaking ocean view.

The project's low density will grant it a valuable urban quality, space will be its most valued asset and distinctive factor.

Due to this abundance of space, outdoor activities will be one of the strengths of the touristic offer, revealing the culture of Maio and it's peoples gentleness.

We firmly believe that Maio's culture, its natural beauty, and the gentleness of its people will be the value proposition of this development.

Le Terrazze


Le Terrazze

Sonae Sierra and ING Real Estate developed the new shopping centre “Le Terrazze” in La Spezia, Italy.

The centre (38600m2 GLA) was a total investment of €150 Million and hosts 102 commercial units including an Ipercoop hypermarket of 11,700 sq m, 13 large stores and 16 restaurants and bars, as well as a Fitness Club Tonic with indoor swimming pool and a covered car park for 2,000 cars.

“Le Terrazze” offers a high quality tenant mix of local and international brands including Ipercoop, Mediaworld, H&M, Tonic Fitness, Scarpamondo, Cisalfa Sport, Deichmann, OVS Industry, Benetton, Piazza Italia, DeN Store, La Feltrinelli and Calliope.

The shopping centre also offers a food court area with 16 restaurants and bars.

The shopping centre, designed and built under my supervision while responsible for Sierra’s New Projects, is the first phase of a wider project of urban requalification, which will give back to the citizens of La Spezia the land of an old oil refinery.

The center proved to be very successful attracting people from La Spezia and the touristic areas of Le Cinque Terre, Porto Venere, Lerici and Versilia.

The entire concept of “Le Terrazze” was developed in harmony with the surrounding landscape and is closely connected with the local geographic configuration.

In order to render homage to the local culture and its tradition, the shopping centre’s interior is characterized by a “tromp l’oeil” painting which depicts elements of the Ligurian personalities and landscape.

The team focused on Corporate Responsibility since the very beginning of the project adopting the best practices both in terms of Environment safeguard and occupational Safety & Health.

This strong commitment has been acknowledged by Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance (LRQA) and LE TERRAZZE was the first shopping centre in the world to achieve joint Environmental (ISO 14001) and Safety & Health (OHSAS 18001) certifications.

Moreover, the project has achieved both certifications without any Non Conformities detected during the certification audits.

Valecenter / Refurbishment


Valecenter / Refurbishment

Valecenter is a shopping center opened in 1993, in Marcon, near Venice, on the Mestre ring road, directly accessible from the A14 Venice-Trieste motorway, just 10 km from the Marco Polo airport.

It has a Carrefour hypermarket and a number of stores ranging from apparel to household goods, from services to entertainment.

When the center was offered to SIERRA to buy in 2005, I was asked --while responsible for SIERRA’s New Projects -- to audit the center in order to identify opportunities to increasing value that would sustain its acquisition.

The Shopping Centre had an inefficient layout and many cold spots due to lack of circulation loops in both levels, it had no foodcourt, the escalators and lifts were in the wrong position, and the overall design was dated.

In addition, the tenant mix was inappropriate and there was no comfort for visitors.

Based on the results of the design audit I developed a few ideas to improve the scheme, Sierra acquired it and in 2006 started a refurbishment that was finished in December 2008 with the center always in operation.

The total investment was €37 Million, and 363 new jobs were created.

The main ideas suggested in the CONCEPT DESIGN PHASE were:

- Creation of more appropriate circulations introducing a circulation loop in both levels

- New and strategic location of escalators, mechanical ramps, lifts, toilets and also a new entrance in level -1

- Creation of a Food Court with 600 seats

- New design in order to get a more comfortable, trendy and involving atmosphere, introducing environemntal graphics and the theme of the traditional Murano glass industry

- Complete renovation of the exterior façade in harmony with the new interior design

The creative collaboration between designers and the leasing team lead to a successful commercial product and one of the strongest retail and leisure destinations in the Veneto area.

Tivoli Shopping Expansion


Tivoli Shopping Expansion

BM - Balonas & Menano is the result of the association between architects Miguel Menano and Pedro Balonas, both talented in developing excellence in architectural design in various areas.

In their urge to build up knowhow in the area of retail design, BM invited MARIO SANTOS STRATEGIC DESIGN CONSULTANT to join them on a limited two weeks competition for the concept of the expansion of a shopping center in Brazil.

The winner would be chosen according to the quality of the proposed conceptual solution.

The Tivoli Mall, located in the city of Santa Bárbara d'Oeste, in the state of São Paulo, opened in November 1998, and is one of the largest shopping and leisure centers in the region.

The mall has 145 stores in operation, 21 units of food and beverage, 14 cinema theaters and several kiosks.

MARIO SANTOS STRATEGIC DESIGN CONSULTANT lead the design team in the Concept Design phase and the team won the competition, being awarded the full project design.

Cidade Financeira


Cidade Financeira

FINICAPITAL - Investimentos e Gestão SA -- a holding company founded in 2008 based in Angola appointed a local architect to design CIDADE FINANCEIRA, a 25.000m2 office complex for banks and other financial institutions in Luanda. The project also includes a convention center, a business school, and 4000m2 of commercial space.

FINICAPITAL appointed MARIO SANTOS STRATEGIC DESIGN CONSULTANT to improve the commercial spaces both operationally and functionally.

I worked on site during one week to understand the constraints of the project and the client’s needs and then identify design opportunities.

The outcome was delivered in the form of a presentation that identifies the strengths and weaknesses of the existing project and suggests ways of improving the quality and the efficiency of the commercial areas, aiming at obtaining a commercial product adjusted to the market of Luanda.

Understanding the characteristics and the needs of the market is an important issue for the quality of our work.

Whenever possible, I prefer to work on site, together with the client, to make sure we address all relevant subjects.

Zagreb Brick Factory


Zagreb Brick Factory

Agrokor is the largest privately held company in Croatia.

It was founded in 1976 as a company producing flowers and flower seedlings.

It greatly expanded their operations in the following decades by acquiring a number of large companies in Croatia and Southeast Europe.

Agrokor's core businesses are the production and distribution of food and drinks and retail, and over the years the group acquired several large Croatian companies in those sectors.

The Agrokor group currently has almost 40,000 employees, and had an annual sales revenue of EUR 3.6 billion in 2009.

This made Agrokor the biggest company in Croatia in terms of sales revenue and placed it 18th in Deloitte's annual list of the 500 biggest Central European companies.

Agrokor appointed MARIO SANTOS STRATEGIC DESIGN CONSULTANT to design a master plan and identity for a large mixed use project in Zagreb including offices, hotels, housing and a shopping center.

Given the location -- an old brick factory in the northwestern edge of the city -- and the existence of a transportation hub (out-of town bus lines and urban tramway connection) we explored the following ideas:

- the scheme is a natural extension of Zagreb’s city center

- the urban transportation hub creates relevant traffic and important synergies

- the shopping center must have a strong urban character and become part of a boulevard allowing people to walk through it in their way to and from the new offices, housing, and transportation stations.

Initially, we worked in Zagreb for three days, producing a PRELIMINARY CONCEPT DESIGN package that we presented to the client in order to obtain their feedback.

Once we had the main ideas discussed and approved we proceeded with the CONCEPT DESIGN phase.

The CONCEPT DESIGN and identity booklet was produced in three weeks.

This booklet is a precious tool to approach other developers, authorities and financial partners.

Officine Reggiane


Officine Reggiane

Officine Meccaniche Reggiane SpA was an italian aircraft manufacturer in the city of Reggio Emilia.

The first aircraft produced was the medium bomber Piaggio P32bis.

Reggiane would become famous for its agile single-seat fighter aircraft.

When World War II erupted, Reggiane's fighters were taken over by the Italian Air Force. Other fighters found their way to the German Luftwaffe and to the Hungarian and Swedish Air Forces.

After the end of WWII, the Officine Reggiane were occupied by workers who begun a conversion of the production geared towards the civilian market, in a pattern similar to the nationwide wave of factory occupations of the years 1920-1921.

The property of the Officine Reggiane has been unused for a number of years and is located very close to the heart of the city.

The municipality of Reggio Emilia has commissioned a plan to develop this part of the urban space devoting the area of Officine Reggiane to mixed use occupancy (offices, education and commercial).

A joint venture of very influential companies in the north of Italy invited MARIO SANTOS STRATEGIC DESIGN CONSULTANT to lay down a quick master plan addressing the major planning highlights for what could be done to develop this area.

This plan, produced in TWO WEEKS was presented to the authorities as a base for discussion of further development steps.

Cafeteria Coop


Spazio Coop

NOVA COOP is one of the largest hypermarket chains in Piemonte and Lombardy and one of the largest cooperatives of the nationwide COOP network.

It operates in the interest of their associates to whom is committed to guarantee quality and safety in their products and services.

Essential characteristics of the legal form of co-operation are the mutual purpose and social interest. In fact, the profits and reserves are indivisible and are used for the development of the society.

NOVA COOP preserves the founding principles of cooperation: associative spirit, social responsibility, solidarity and democracy.

The client appointed MARIO SANTOS STRATEGIC DESIGN CONSULTANT to design the CONCEPT AND IDENTITY for a new store that would become a spinoff of their cafeteria including a number of new services.

Given that UNESCO established 2012 as the International Year of the Cooperatives, we decided to explore NOVA COOP’s strengths as communicators and social players.

The company had never leveraged their intrinsic social responsibility and democratic and ethical business principles.

We saw that as an opportunity to create a space for communication between he company and their public as well as among their members.

We created a group of different spaces-- each one with a specific character and function -- bound by a mural that would convey a strong message celebrating sound business practice, social responsibility, and ethics.

Coop Collegno


Coop Collegno
NOVA COOP is one of the largest hypermarket chains in Piemonte and Lombardy and one of the largest cooperatives of the nationwide COOP network. NOVA COOP appointed MARIO SANTOS STRATEGIC DESIGN CONSULTANT to design the concept and identity for a new shopping center in Collegno, near Turin. An existing project developed by NOVA COOP’s architects and engineers PROMOGECO was the basis for the design. There were many constraints due to the already existing compromises regarding the structure and the planning issues. We performed a design audit to the existing project and identified the areas where we could bring differentiating elements to the scheme. Focusing on the circulation, making sure the public would flow equally along the mall, we got rid of cold spots and increased visibility and interest of commercial areas. We created places of special interest in order to establish an hierarchy of spaces, and introduced the idea of the foodcourt overlooking an area where special events could take place, like an atrium. Because local architects PROMOGECO had already worked on a leaf pattern for the ceramic tiles in the facade, we explored the theme of the tree leaves and the forest as the basis for the identity of the shopping center (Collegno is also known for the beauty of its natural parks). The design team established a clear distinction between different areas based on materials ranging from the earthy colors of the forest ground to the lighter and transparent colors of the sky and the tree canopies.  


Past Projects

  • Vasco Da Gama
  • Vasco Da Gama
  • Vale Center
  • Plaza Mayor
  • Parque Dom Pedro
  • Oitava Avenida
  • Oitava Avenida
  • Norte Shopping
  • Norte Shopping
  • Luz Del Tajo
  • Loure Shopping
  • Loop
  • Leiria Shopping
  • Le Terrazze 3
  • Le Terrazze 2
  • Le Terrazze
  • GLI ORSI 2
  • Gaia Shopping
  • Freccia Rosa
  • El Rosal
  • Arrabida Shopping
  • Algarve Shopping
  • Alexa
  • Alexa

Mario Santos

  • I worked for Sonae Sierra as responsible for the design of new concepts across Europe and Brazil for 18 years.
  • In these years, I have had the chance to work in many successful projects with international design companies in many different countries, acting as the developer’s architect and design manager.
  • Most of the projects that actually came to life were internationally recognized with important real estate and design awards.
  • These projects gave me the opportunity of developing a unique global understanding of what strategic design means for the real estate industry in countries like Brazil, Colombia, Morocco, Cape Verde, Portugal, Spain, France, Austria, Germany, Italy, Croatia, Romania, Hungary, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, and others.
  • Nowadays, when the real estate business is going through the process of reinventing procedures, strategies, and products, I believe I have the knowhow and skills to provide the innovative approach the industry needs.

Global Vision

To offer vision manage planning details, and take overall design responsibility to complete a successful project.

  • Architecture
  • Interior design
  • Identity
  • Graphic design
  • Commercial layout
  • Landscape design
  • Lightning design
Global vision


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