You are on page 1of 4

Initially an American innovation, the mega retail centres and particularly

the shopping mall has spread in metropolitan cities in India and


elsewhere, in the 21 st century, as the unparalleled powerful engine of
commerce. It is now a global, polymorphous multicultural experience.
Retail is a highly competitive business and developers have aggressively
positioned their schemes, responding to the urban customers'
expectations, recreating the retail centres in the light of the new demand
of changing lifestyles and aspirations. There new challenges facing the
designers with the continual emergence of new types of retail centres.
New urban types of retail facilities incorporate a synergistic trinity of
retail, catering leisure facilities, form
retail entertainment centres geared
towards attracting large population.
Shopping experience is an expression
of consumer lifestyle. Basic trading
stalls in conventional market have
grown into various shopping formats
which we have today, with increased
size. Those employed in the retail
industry make up a large proportion
of a country's workforce. Today, the
footfalls we witness in large shopping malls can be compared to footfalls
in some of the largest railway stations and stadiums. Retail centres
generate large traffic volumes derived from public access to shops. Public
transport, serving shopping centres, need to be integrated and made
applicable and relevant, and also available and accessible to those who
are likely to use it. Inter-nodal transit facilities created with metro stations,
and airport facilities providing important hubs with transit shops mixed
with food consumption and increasing leisure facilities, are creating a
broad spectrum of consumer use. The mixeduse developments require
design skills include the different building types and public realm design
capabilities.
Today, it is about going out and getting a shopping experience, about
collecting different aspects of a lifestyle and not just buying a commodity
which can also be obtained by going online shopping. Shopping
environment should establish a sense of place and create a local identity,
and today's retail environment should be a more safe and convenient
place to shop. Middle of the road generalised shopping facilities, as
practised in many parts of India, will not be sufficient enough to attract
enough customers to allow retail centres to survive.
The challenge for designers is how to make a shopping environment a
memorable experience. Shopping trips are becoming more important than
the purchase. The requirement for shopping facilities to be convenient and
enjoyable to use will become increasingly important in a pressurised
society where available time is scarce and shopping is easily available
through other means like Internet, mail order and other centres. Going to

shops will need a clear advantage


of
choice,
convenience,
contentment,
value
and
experience over the alternative
formats if it is to avoid failing into
a decline. The experience will
include the type and organisation
of shops, ease of movement,
quality of amenities and the
means of finding a particular
product. Providing choice and
variety will become an increasingly
important criteria in the overall
scheme. Shop units are becoming big for tenants to provide a full product
range.
Eaton Centre located in the prime area of downtown Toronto (1977-1979)
despite its age is emulated by many subsequent centres today and is
described as doyen of urban shopping centres. It is one of the largest
town centre shopping developments in Canada with 145.000sq m of
retailing and catering space. The shopping element forms over two thirds
of a larger mixed-use development totalling 300000sq m of retail, offices,
parking and connections to public transport infrastructure. The Mall of
America in Minneapolis. USA. is a highly successful shopping and
entertainment machine providing 390,000sq m of accommodation. The
centre operates over four levels. Mall of Emirates in Dubai is an
entertainment and shopping paradise. Wafi Mall, again in Dubai, houses
the world's most valued brands.
Specialty shopping, emerging as a major attraction for tourists with the
charm of a bazaar such as Covent Garden. London 1980, has led to
exemplar developments. Focused retail centres also referred as themed
retail centres, are not new in itself. The shopping environments emerging
at transport hubs are taking advantage of the large pedestrians using
metros. Newly designed airport concourse retails have also exploited a
large number of passengers, and are described as shopping malls with
runways attached. Airport operators are modifying existing airports and
planning new ones to incorporate substantial retail facilities. Retail
consultants and specialist architects are now involved in the earliest
planning stages of new airport facilities. Transport oriented retail is fast
becoming the order of the day.
With increasing competition between different retail centres providing the
right level of facility can make the difference to success. The level of
amenities in many shopping environments is now parallel that in hotels.
Provision of refreshments, disabled facilities and crches can no longer be
positioned in remote areas and inaccessible parts of a centre. They are
fundamental to the planning and organisation of a centre and must be
considered at the outset. With more of the youthful society, trendy and
greatly aware of international trends, the places they shop must be

tailored to suit their requirements with the right level of safety and
security. It is this generation which is generally well travelled, experienced
and knowledgeable that wants shopping to be a positive, memorable
experience. It also has high expectations allied to close attention to detail.
The traditional shopping which earlier took place mainly during the
festival season is now spread to all seasons. This emphasises the
importance of shopping habits of today's generation. Many retailers now
expert to operate across more than one country. They have set new
standards in shop front and fit-out and have set new benchmarks taking
new ideas from one country to another.

Shopping centres should have a sense of space and set good examples of
urban design. The quality of the environment of shopping amenities from
arrival to departure has improved and will continue to do so. because
people will go somewhere else if it is not right. The public is well aware
that there is another centre within a radius of 30 min drive time. Retail
centres have become destination places besides being social centres,
become tourist destinations.
Many retail centre interiors are naturally lit. bright and mixed with artificial
light. The design of the artificial lighting needs to balance between the
general and feature lighting and the combined installation needs to be
controlled by energy management systems with economy. Contemporary
high quality materials with granite or imported marble, glass and metal
balustrades with toilet interiors matching five star hotel standards are
used. The back of the house areas of shopping centres which are hidden
from the public are integral to the design and this is where the designers
play an important role in efficient planning and coordination.
An atrium is an important focal design in large retail centres to draw
maximum people and becoming the place for fusing art and architecture.
The atrium brings light and air down the spaces that are extremely dense
with the customers. At the same time, one is losing important ground for
retail. This is true for ground floor where more showy labels - jewellers,
perfume and other high end items are located to attract the customers.
For architects today, there is a great opportunity for creating civic
destinations which can be a rewarding experience being involved in the
retail environment. New emerging types of shopping facility eventually
add to the diversity of the existing range. Future prototypes have to
explore sustainable design. With changing regulations, more stringent
standards for energy consumption and requirement for more sustainable
design, large shopping environments of the future will need to incorporate
a wide range of sustainable and low energy features to meet these new
targets. Retail has evolved and we have seen shops gradually developing

second spaces shared other buildings become splendid individual


buildings with their identity.
However, each new retail centre will require new skills and technical
understanding from those involved in their designs. Architects are
required to balance the different objectives and requirements of the
principal stakeholders and even when the customer is the king and the
developer is the instructing client. As the market matures and the large
opportunities are completed and there will be fewer opportunities left
resulting in a move towards making better use and expansion of existing
retail centres. The continual emergence of new types and with the
shopping development and lifestyle stores being integral to the formation
of city centres, one can see the future of retail architecture very exciting
and bright, and an inventive time for designers, and for both retail
developers and the customers, it is a win-win situation.