Quantcast
Latest Stories

Design Dimensions

The new town plaza

By

THIS skylit mall brings light and greenery into the indoors. But nothing beats being alongside the outdoors as strip malls have them. Photo courtesy of Dezeen

THE PLAZA of our grandma’s days was the place where the community gathered. People came mainly on “market day” when families sold their produce, home-made and handcrafted items and the season’s harvest—fruits, vegetables, grains.  Here, men and women shared ideas, made conversation and built the ties that kept their community together. It was, in a way, a barometer for the social, political and economic development in the town. It measured the status and values of its society.

During those days, a plaza was both park and marketplace. It was also an open hall for musical performances, a platform for political demonstrations, the arena for athletic competitions and the venue for community celebrations. In other parts of the world, they are known as town squares, carrying out the same functions but with variations in the activities with each echoing the culture of its people.

These informal outdoor gathering spaces gradually became more structured and permanent with shops and eateries growing at their fringes to become fixtures to cater to the ever-growing population of what were once small towns. As the quiet town grew, so did its plaza transform. The evolved plaza is now a controlled environment enveloped in concrete and glass and bustling with just about the same amount of commerce, community living, entertainment and chaos. Today’s town plaza is the mall.

While malls are known primarily for the shopping, many don’t recognize that it has essentially replaced the town hall and its surrounding institutions including the likes of civic centers and churches. Today, Sunday Masses are held in the malls, and we find government agencies like the Department of Foreign Affairs and the National Bureau of Investigation operating satellite offices within.

A wealth of info

Shopping malls hold a wealth of information about the community it serves. The metrics available from the urban plaza now include preferences in film, fashion, art and food, whether for the discerning or the mainstream. Here we can spot food trends (mochi balls anyone?), fashion fancies (metal-studded platforms?) and lifestyle aspirations (more furniture, accessories and lighting stores, and now even more beautiful malls!).

This enclosure filled with facts and figures carries a myriad of multisensory experiences that can either be enjoyable: the smell of bread and coffee; the music of a band or small orchestra playing live; or irritating: the same band or orchestra through a bad audio system, the overload of advertising posters and graphics. It can also be (un) forgettable: like the recent spate of robberies and shootouts that for some have marred what could have been a happy and relaxing day out. Undeniably, a mall bears the signs of the times.

I wonder how crowded it got during the market days? My claustrophobic nature goes into panic mode during packed mall visits, which is why I absolutely love strip malls and their semi-open structures that allow for views of the sky and the surrounding landscape. It feels spacious no matter how busy it gets. In the ’60s and ’70s, strip malls were quite popular but were overshadowed by the larger malls that were built vertically as a consideration to rising property prices. Remember Angela Arcade and Bricktown?  Single-structure malls filled the cities and strip malls were relegated to the suburban areas.

Back in the city

Although I love the convenience of the one-building shopping mall, I’m glad that strip malls are back in the city.  The thing I like most is that they integrate the experience of being sheltered and protected with the liberating feel of the outdoors: enjoying all that modern retailing has to offer while being close to nature. Hot sun and drizzles included.

Fortunately more and more developers are able to find the happy middle ground, integrating more greenery, sunlight and natural ventilation into their structures. Strip malls like Filinvest’s Westgate, Ayala’s Bonifacio High Street and even SM’s Mall of Asia have somehow brought the shopping experience a step up, if not a step outside. Then there are the flourishing weekend markets and even the poor man’s talipapa  that pop up and out of little communities.

Next time you enter a mall through those X-ray machines, ceremoniously patted and bags inspected by the security guards with sniffer dog in tow, there’s no need to think of it as merely shopping. Meet up and hit-chat with friends, get your business done, sit alfresco and sip your coffee park-side. Enjoy. Explore.  You can even do a bit of shopping.

Contact the author through designdimensions@abi.ph or through our Asuncion Berenguer Facebook account.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: property , strip malls , town plaza



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

  • LPA enters PH, to bring rains and thunderstorms
  • Sing-along saint: Showbiz world gets papal inspiration
  • Two-thirds of underwater search done, no sign of MH370
  • S. Korea prosecutors turn to mobile app for ferry probe
  • 31 dead in Holy Week incidents—NDRRMC
  • Sports

  • Reigning champs Miami open playoffs with win
  • Spurs subdue Mavericks in playoff opener
  • Wawrinka beats Federer to win Monte Carlo Masters
  • Ageless Hopkins pitches 50-50 Mayweather deal
  • Goodbye MGM, Las Vegas for Pacquiao?
  • Lifestyle

  • Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  • Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Entertainment

  • Discovery network cancels Everest jump
  • ‘Captain America’ stays strong atop US box office
  • Easter musings
  • Solenn in shorts
  • Unmerry mix of attention-calling moves on ‘Mini-Me’ TV tilts
  • Business

  • Oil prices down in quiet Asian trade
  • Asian shares mixed in holiday-thinned trade
  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Bataan freeport investment pledges up 1,302%
  • Golden Week
  • Technology

  • PH has slowest internet in Southeast Asia
  • Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks 25th anniversary
  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Opinion

  • Gigi’s home
  • Palace stonewalls on MRT inquiry
  • Couple of things too
  • There is plenty of water behind Wawa Dam
  • Triduum thoughts of a young boy
  • Global Nation

  • Obama on mission to quiet Asia skeptics
  • Search for Etihad passengers launched
  • Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • OFW died of Mers-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says family
  • Marketplace