Friday, January 22, 2010

Designing an 'Indian Mall'

The many new malls that are mushrooming around the country have almost identical architectural facades and layouts. This sameness is in stark constrast to the country itself. In the largest and most diverse gathering of people under a single nation-state in the world, one expects diversity, not uniformity. The challenge is to resurrect what is Indian from the history of shopping environments in this land, and to introduce the familiarity of that experience into the modern retail space.

Plan of Forum Mall in Bangalore

The changing nature of spaces, of displays and of functionality adds to the experience of a Bazaar. Can the present-day, modern shopping environment also have this changing character? How to create a flexible system, how to implement it? Our understanding of shopping behaviour of customers in a mall environment will also depend on how Indians have shopped until now in a bazaar environment. How can we design an amenable mall that understands the concept of familiarity that the new Indian shop must be based on and also ensures profit for the Indian entrepreneur?

The STREET Concept for an Indian Mall

The concept design for a mall included here proposes a sheltered environment for a series of smaller mall blocks roofed over together. This can be compared to the Istanbul bazaar where shoppers walk through covered streets and shops that stretch over large stretches of city space. The new design recommends bringing in the vibrancy of an Indian street into a modern Indian shop that has the efficiency of a “Singapore mall” and yet offers creative freedom to the vendors in the way spaces and displays can alter themselves within the informal central spine that connects the more formal spaces.

Is it possible for us to merge tradition and modernity in the 'Indian mall' if we develop such a design that has an organic street as the main spine, with verandahs and courtyards, with small buildings that specialise in clothing or in furniture that all link together through this vibrant central street zone.

The retail stores which are the main commerce zones may have a modern outlook and a modern functioning. The street would be the thread, vibrant with break-out areas, coffee shops and eating areas – a thread that would bring those who buy in the mall and those who sell in the mall into a space where social linkages can only be reinforced further and where chance and randomness nurture creativity.


KalaiVannan said...

You are right about the Construction of Indian Mall. A new mall is going to be constructed in Chennai soon.(Located on the traffic artery of South Tamil Nadu). Their brochure and website is so good to see. I expect this mall to be in a good traditional way of construction. Nice post.

Kiran Keswani said...

It would be nice if you could share links to the website and images of the brochure, if possible.