“THE ARCHITECTOR’S PROBLEM IS TO TRANSFORM MALLS FROM DARK“ BOXES ”FOR SHOPPING TO SPACES FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY”
Alexandra Razina, lead architect of Blank Architects, on the modern architecture of shopping centers, methods for increasing their competitiveness and interior trends. – Alexandra, what is the architect’s main task when working with shopping centers today? What requirements does the modern format dictate? – The modern market for retail real estate in the conditions of fierce competition for the buyer dictates new conditions. Today, every high-quality shopping center strives to gain individuality in the context of the environment in order to attract and retain its audience. The architect’s task is to turn malls from gloomy “boxes” for shopping into spaces for the whole family with a rich leisure and business components. These changes are reflected not only in the commercial layout, but also in the architecture of the project: the shopping center must functionally and visually configure visitors to get the most out of their time. Today, a shopping center is not only a place for shopping, but also a public function. For example, in the renovation project of the 5 Avenue shopping complex, it will include recreation areas, coworking, fountains and bicycle zones on the territory. A special place in the project is occupied by the fresh food market with national cuisine concepts. – What architectural techniques can enhance the competitiveness of the shopping center, give it individuality? – A well-thought-out interior and a spectacular facade can really increase the competitive attractiveness of the project. The way the shopping center fits into the surrounding context and what its place in the architecture of the surrounding buildings may affect the attendance and interest of potential buyers. Shopping centers today, in most cases, are built in the developed areas with a stable infrastructure, and they should fit into the urban context. This trend is especially noticeable on the example of district-level trading projects. When we were working on a project to reconstruct the Golden Babylon Otradnoye shopping and entertainment center, we were faced with the question of the harmonious integration of the shopping center into the surrounding buildings. We designed an additional entrance group and connected the mall with the park, which is located immediately behind the building. Thus, we managed to solve several problems at once: to increase the attractiveness of the shopping center for local residents, having formed an additional function of the space, and to revive the abandoned park. We have brought the project as close as possible to eco-architecture, laying in its basis elements that have something in common with the natural landscape. The facade panels of the upper floor with their pattern resemble the image of leaves. At the lower level, the theme of ecology continues in wooden inserts. In the building of the shopping center, the architectural continuation of the park is visible. – What other techniques can an architect use to harmoniously integrate shopping centers into the surrounding space? – Open entrance groups, cozy terraces, cafes with direct access to the street – these are very successful architectural techniques for shopping projects. For example, in the Golden Babylon Otradnoy shopping and entertainment center, the reconstruction project that we created provides for access to the shopping gallery through the cafe area on the ground floor with a through plan. Also, from the park behind the object, a staircase leads visitors to a small terrace where restaurants are located. The entrance group of the building is the center of gravity. Visible and stylish entrances increase the chances that the visitor wants to go to the shopping center and make purchases. Architectural techniques can also emphasize the form and “highlight” some functions. In the 5th Avenue update project, we decided to emphasize the shape of the building with the help of light panels. The presence of the highlight of the project – the green market on the fourth floor – we “highlighted” with the help of decorative domes and terraces. – What trends in the internal design of shopping centers can you highlight? – If a bright entrance group and harmony with the surrounding space attract visitors, then the inside of the shopping center is designed to keep them. The most comfortable and even relaxed space is pleasant light (not too bright, cold or warm), seasonal showcases, soft areas in common areas, ubiquitous wi-fi. The visitor should want to stay in the mall, nothing should distract him from shopping.