The malls have been temples of the urban society, it was where people went to socialize, to relax, to be inspired and even to get married. As the trips to the malls are now made to explore new experiences, malls are witnessing an evolution.
Architects need to find ways to connect the inner enclosed spaces to the outer real ones and create ecosystems that will thrive together.
Conceptually malls were developed to give the American suburban communities of the 1950s a town centre that they did not have.
The architect of the first mall, Victor David Gruen took inspiration from the piazzas of Italy and the boulevards of France to create a space where people could come together to spend time, enjoy good company, share ideas, discover art and bond. The first mall had spaces for all of these activities with food courts, art galleries, spaces for art installations, etc.
With consumerism and disposable incomes on the rise, malls become hubs for families to hangout, shop and have been symbolic of our contemporary culture of consumerism for the last few decades.
Today, people are shopping online for everything from fashion, gadgets to groceries. There is no need to visit the malls anymore. Further, with globalization and large retail chains driving malls, each mall looks like any other mall anywhere else in the world.
For the millennial generation, standardization of malls has been a put off, resulting in drastically lower footfalls at the malls and closure of several older malls across the US, while many large malls in Asia lie in a dilapidated condition.
But this does not mean the era of malls is over. In fact, Far East and the Middle East are witnessing an ongoing boom in malls – but these are malls with a difference. Here the focus is not merely on shopping, but rather on the experiences the mall space can provide.
This demand for the ‘new’ sees mall architects experimenting with design, offerings, structure, and material. Further, the local community needs to own these spaces to give it a personality of its own.
This is where architects are now beginning to include local building materials, adopt the local design language and creating spaces that the locals can relate to. What does this mean for the malls of the future? How different will they be from what we have seen till date?
Only time will tell. But in this issue of InterEdge, we showcase some of new malls from around the world – exploring different aspects to find what appeals to the visitors of today.