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Are Malls and Streets Destined to Merge?

While much has been made of the suburban shopping mall's decline, successful urban retail spaces are taking their inspiration from the humble city street.
March 21, 2017, 9am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Christopher Woo

Across the world, booming cities are constructing spaces that meld the traditional shopping mall with the traditional city street. Stefan Al discusses some prominent examples, starting with New York City's Oculus. "Oculus was Westfield's $1.4bn bet that New York, a city known for its love of the street, could also have a successful mall."

Oculus exemplifies how "a new breed of shopping centre is integrating so seamlessly into its urban surroundings that it can be difficult to draw any line between city and mall whatsoever." 

These projects have gained recent popularity in China. On a Beijing shopping space, Al writes, "Rather than designing the whole complex himself, [architect Chris Law] created a masterplan with an urban design framework for other architects to fill in, making it appear as if the complex grew organically."

Open-air "street-style" malls can be attractive places, but they also prompt questions about the uses of public versus private space. They can also fall into the urban design version of the uncanny valley if developers and architects aren't careful. 

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Published on Thursday, March 16, 2017 in The Guardian
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