Remarkable retail architecture
Despite the rising popularity of online retail business in the country, nothing still beats the experience of shopping in physical stores.
Malls, in particular, have become an essential part of the Filipino lifestyle as it is not only just a place for shopping but also a public space for recreation. Hence, retail architecture is gaining more importance today as physical stores strive to attract consumers and establish their identity amid the evolving commercial landscape as well as the increasingly cutthroat competition in the market.
While great architecture in commercial spaces is still not seen as a priority for most businesses, there are retail players around the world that have gained international attention for the distinct designs of their commercial establishments.
A mixed-use park combining a shopping mall, auditorium, hotel and corporate buildings, Parque Toreo in Mexico City goes beyond its intent to serve as a commercial space by seamlessly fusing an indoor retail area with a lush outdoor atmosphere. The mall’s landscaping and use of natural features draw visitors not just to shop, but to also enjoy the environment.
Occupying 51,754 sqm in land area, the shopping center was conceived as “a great park” with fountains, trees and open spaces. The mall, completed in 2014, could be mistaken as an outdoor space with its surrounding greenery, columns that mimic tree trunks and flooring that resembles stone. The glass dome in the common area even acts as natural light and appears like a wide skylight, giving visitors the full outdoor experience.
Apple Central World
Apple’s newest location in Thailand is right in the heart of Ratchaprasong, Bangkok. With its all glass design, this 80-foot diameter store gives an open, welcoming view of the interiors. It is housed under a cantilevered canopy tree roof grounded at its center and has a 360-degree view of the urban area outside.
The store, which opened in July, is also connected to the city’s largest shopping center. Customers can go to the second level of the store through a spiral staircase that wraps around the core or by riding a cylindrical elevator. The plaza outside meanwhile serves as a space for gatherings, with benches and large trees surrounding the area.
Lane 189, a shopping center in the Putuo district in central Shanghai, perfectly exemplifies the blending of traditional elements in contemporary designs. The building incorporates “old Shanghai” in its patterned facade which is based on a hexagonal grid. This eye-catching component, according to architecture firm UNStudio, is meant to give the public a constantly changing perspective of the building.
The 38,800 sqm commercial building has a vertical orientation with a central open space. Every floor of the building has restaurants and boutiques that alternate with kiosks and rest areas, creating intimate spaces for relaxation. The double-height opening in its lower facade or the “urban eyes” displays the products from inside while also providing visitors with an outdoor view.
Selexyz Dominicanen Bookstore
Dutch bookstore chain Selexyz delivered its promise of building “architecturally interesting” stores in its branch located in Maastricht, Netherlands. The Selexyz Dominicanen Bookstore, designed by Merkx + Girod architects, was built within the 13th century Dominican church of Maastricht, which has not been used for its original purpose since the 18th century.
The bookstore retained the church’s gothic style and structure while expanding the limited floor space of the original building. Holding a large selection of books on high black steel shelves, the popular bookstore houses a cafe and incorporates elements of the church such as a large table shaped like a cross.
Climate Protection Supermarket
Multinational food retail chain SPAR opened the country’s first energy self-sufficient supermarket in 2012 in Graz, Austria. It has been granted a gold certification by ÖGNI (Austrian Green Building Council) for its low energy design, as the site produces more energy than the store uses.
The triangular shaped building has a glass facade that gives a bright and open appearance, drawing in visitors to the store. The facade is also made of contrasting galvanized sheet steel and wood to convey different themes while the roof has circular and hill-shaped greeneries. The store combines natural, modern and innovative themes in its design.
Greenbelt in Ayala Center
Ayala Malls’ Greenbelt is known for its sprawling and lush landscape in the middle of Makati’s urban setting. The four-level shopping mall offers a mix of upscale retail shops, entertainment establishments and restaurants that take advantage of the garden spaces through al fresco dining.
Out of the 12-ha land area of the mall, 2.8 hectares were allotted for the garden, integrating the outdoor elements into the indoor retail experience. Greenbelt’s exceptional design won it the “Most Innovative Design and Construction Award” from the International Council of Shopping Centers, Inc. in 2004.
Sources: Inquirer Archives, Rmjm.com, Archdaily.com, Archello.com, Architectureweek.com, Theguardian.com, Inhabitat.com, En.spar.cn, Ayalamalls.com, Ayalaland.com.ph, Gfparchitects.com, Apple.com