The American dream of owning a single-family home for a nuclear family was often accompanied by the mall, where people could buy the products to fill their house and clothe their children. But in recent years, many shopping malls in North America have become what is known as 'dead malls', with high vacancy rates, low consumer traffic, and deteriorating conditions. As a design critic, a girl from the 1980s, and someone dedicated to the idea that architecture should be for everyone, the mall has been an ideal subject to explore. In the 1960s, architects and designers perfected the garden mall, which had atriums full of plants and bathed in sunlight that invited shoppers to stay. These malls were more than just flashy places of consumption and leisure; they were places for communities to meet, see and be seen, satisfying a “basic human need”.An example of this can be seen in Fairfax County, Virginia, where the former Springfield shopping center became Springfield Town Center, a mixed-use complex that includes a movie theater with 12 theaters, shops and restaurants with outdoor seating and entrances.
This transformation from shopping mall to mixed-use outdoor area may involve the demolition of parts or all of the old mall. The change in priorities has meant that people have less time to drive and walk around malls. During the Great Recession, specialty stores offered what many shoppers considered useless luxuries that they could no longer afford. This has all contributed to the decline of malls across North America. But despite this decline, there is still hope for malls. The momentary joy that people feel when they see happy families is the basis of the strength of the mall and the essence of its continued usefulness.
With this in mind, it is possible to reimagine malls as places that offer more than just shopping - places that offer experiences that people can't get anywhere else. Malls can become hubs for entertainment and socialization. They can host events such as concerts, art shows, movie screenings, and more. They can also become centers for education with classes on topics such as cooking or technology. By providing these experiences, malls can become destinations rather than just places to shop. Malls can also become centers for community engagement.
They can host farmers markets or provide space for local businesses to showcase their products. This will help create a sense of community and bring people together. Finally, malls can become places for relaxation and wellness. They can offer yoga classes or spas where people can take a break from their busy lives. This will help create an atmosphere of calmness and peace. The mall has been an integral part of American culture since its inception.
It has been a place where people have gone to shop, socialize, and find entertainment. But with changing times come changing needs. By adapting to these needs and providing experiences that people cannot get anywhere else, malls can once again become vibrant centers of activity.