Monday, October 8, 2012

Mall Architecture: Breathable Spaces vs Enclosed Walls vs Hybrid

After a quick review, “Ali Mall” (Cubao, Quezon City) is the first shopping mall in the Philippines. But with numerous ShoeMarts plus Hypermarkets built, it is without doubt that business tycoon Henry Sy leads the shopping arena in the country while other moguls trail behind.

The trend in mall landscaping is complex more so fascinating. It’s a thought that is exposed for discussion and is awaiting expansion and re-expansion. On this note, I would like to present aesthetics and shopping experience as defining factors drawing on the perspective of both retailer and buyer.

 photo above from

The concept of a one-stop shop kicked off during the 60’s-70’s. Now think of SM Megamall, where all the stores are under one roof. True to their “We’ve Got it All for You” objective of offering everything right at your fingertips - the vision of a department store where you can browse clothes, shoes, bags, toys, office items. Name it. They have it.  Or better yet, consider the food court area where a variety of choices are made available to famished souls. You’re not limited to one type of cuisine. Food fare may go to pizza/pasta to rice meals or Japanese to Filipino and other possible combinations.

 photo above from

At present, this idea is being replaced by a wider, more open space. Imagine Bonifacio High Street. Different boutiques lined up with a sight of lush greenery on the side. 

photos from

And definitely the hybrid type like SM Mall of Asia where some parts are in the open while others are contained in the four-wall structure.

As to design, owners are given more flexibility on how they are to plan the construction of their business in open spaces. Some as a single-storey building while others in lofty sky-rocket floors. Props are also put up as they wish. While shops inside malls look similar to each other with floor areas and window displays as distinct features. In the standpoint of mall-goers, it’s easier to remember unique places but may like an uncluttered arrangement.

As to whether it’s a pleasurable adventure, both models offer the sophistication of air-conditioning systems. However, people don’t have to jump from one place to another in malls. The weather also defines strolling experience. It may get dripping wet and rainy now and then dry and extremely sunny next. Another take is the consideration of allowing pets. Think about the crowd.  In this context, people would always prefer hassle-free shopping.

At the end of the day, customers’ needs and comfort should be put first albeit the lure of earnings. It’s about getting the right balance. ◘

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