Built by Bovis for client Lend Lease on a 100 ha former chalk quarry, the £350m centre provides 154 000 m2 of floor space for more than 320 retail outlets.
It also provides car parking facilities for more than 13 000 vehicles. The development is likely to be the last major out-of-town centre built now that planning restrictions designed to revitalise town centres have started to bite.
Bluewater is spread over three malls, each catering for a different type of shopper.
It includes a day-care nursery for children up to five years old and an activity centre for older children. It will also have an area where bored male shoppers can wait for their partners.
The centre incorporates 31 elevators and six pairs of escalators.
Almost three years on site, at its peak Bluewater provided work for more than 5000 building workers and had its own on-site chaplain and police station.
The scheme was designed by architects Eric Kuhne and Benoy. Bovis co-ordinated the work of 52 specialist contractors. QS for the project was Cyril Sweett.