Renaissance of Suburban Shopping
This thesis interrogates Eastgate Mall in Christchurch, to develop a revived architectural design for the neglected shopping mall. Shoppers are becoming increasingly familiar with online shopping, with many now preferring this channel over the physical (Blázquez, 2014, p. 109). While shoppers are offered convenience and often a larger range of goods, malls now appear to be spaces solely for urgent shopping (Rouz, 2014, p. 1881). This has decreased footfall and lowered people’s tendency to appear in these spaces for recreational and non- economical purposes. Shopping malls like Eastgate are declining as the “centreless centrepieces of suburbs” that deny surrounding communities their diversity, and economic and cultural prosperity (Chavan et al., 2007, p. 59).
This thesis argues that current architecture widely used in shopping malls is detrimental to retailers—particularly small local businesses. It acknowledges that retail spaces will no longer be solely for the sale of goods. Therefore, it proposes to enrich the showing and selling of experiences as a way to revive Eastgate Mall and further differentiate its physical retail spaces from those in the online channel. By enriching shoppers’ experiences, the mall can embody the contemporary culture of transience and immediacy that shift its retail spaces away from the static and one-dimensional to the multi-functional and hybrid.
The proposed design aims to sever ties with traditional expectations of shopping malls, thereby conforming to the idea that,“[I]f closed spaces [ . . . ] truly perpetuate its society[, we must] look beyond the strictures of architectural form to understand the many attributes of what these spaces represent and what they can be” ( Jewell, 2016, p. 103).
Overall, the research in response to the current stagnation of Eastgate and rising popularity of online shopping proposes an experiential mall design; it seeks to differentiate the physical from online retail spaces and contribute to fostering the sense of community that surrounding suburbs are strengthening.