Designing a Mall with a soul

What do we say is a definition of a Mall. Mall is an enclosed space where we can shop. I would say “WRONG”. Mall is a Circus, A Broadway show, a 7d / 8d/10d movie….. A large entertainment platform which stimulates our senses and transports us to a happy space and yeah we also shop.

Few Key Differentiators to design the right experience:

  • Let’s start from the beginning–  The drive to the mall needs to be a smooth one. Make sure that approach road to the mall is wide, at least 5 lanes, so that during peak traffic it is an easy flow into the mall. Ample lanes for the security check. Preferred to have surface car park or if it is an basement, please do not condemn the basement. The basement/ car park is the first customer interaction with the mall. The right ceiling heights, ventilations, neat finishes,…..simple things to make the customer feel welcome.Picture4
  • We leave as we come– The exit also needs to be a smooth one, no waiting, no narrow turns or steep slopes. Entrance and exit gates should be different and from different directions.
  • Vertical movements– Most malls love to focus on escalators as the key resource for vertical movement. Yes it is important, but please do not neglect the need to have ample elevators also in the forefront.
  • Picture3Don’t only focus for the differently able– We as designers/ developers are stingy with our provisions for the movement of physically challenged. We believe that the numbers are too small and therefore we need to provide the bare basics so as to avoid the dharnas outside the mall. What we forget is that most families have 1 or more physically challenged, I mean Senior citizens and baby in the strollers. The needs of this 10-15% shoppers are also the same. Please be generous with the ramp widths and slopes, toilets with side bars to hold, seats to rest their aching feet, child nappy changing trays (1 is not enough), baby feeding areas, etc.Picture1
  • Entertainment zones– Most times the entertainment areas are never demarked and they take away valuable circulation space creating crowding and pushing. Entrainment and promotion spaces need to earmark at the start. These areas need to provide with ample electrical outlets and flexible staging and lighting options.
  • Give back to the Society– Most spaces where malls have opened, the neighbourhood has been suffering with snarling traffic jams, hawkers, and loss of peace. Be nice to your neighbours. Before mall opening hours or after closing hours, design for spaces where the neighbours can take a jog, walk their dogs, yoga, community centre, etc..

Mall with a soul…. that is what will succeed!!!


About the Author, Architect Vidya Kurup Hegde

Vidya has been instrumental for many reputed projects in India and South Asia. During the last 20 years she has been associated with Hyatt International, South Asia; Westin, Mumbai; StayWell Group;   HyperCity; Oberoi Mall, HyperCity and Shoppers Stop. Her experience involves spearheading concept, space planning, design, detailing, MEP coordination, back of house design, supervising diverse teams and spear heading challenging designs/ assignments within hospitality  and retail sector. Her association with the HyperCity, Oberoi, Shoppers Stop, Hyatt; StayWell and Westin team has endowed her with the essential know how from an Operator and Developer perspective. She can be part of the core team to work in harmony with the Developer and Operator to create a successful Hotel/ Retail Project. Inclusive of her private practice she’s also a visiting faculty at Kamala Raheja College of Architecture teaching Retail Elective, Working Drawings, Services and Design Theory.

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