Business World

Merging Malls and Gardens: Bringing Nature to Cities’ Shopping Districts

Greener MallsOn weekends, people flock to malls and shopping districts to buy things, watch a movie or simply pass the time. Besides being the foundation of retail economies, shopping malls have become the heart and soul of urban communities.

In recent decades, the concept of the shopping mall has proliferated across the globe. At the same time, a storm of global trends emerged to change the role malls play in the lives of consumers. When consumers currently visit malls, they look for experiences that go well beyond traditional shopping. One trend that is predominant over others is bringing nature in, which is otherwise an outdoor feature.

Nature-Mall Developments

This trend is evident in many prominent retail developments all over the world. The Developer of The Commons in Thong Lor, Bangkok, for instance, goes against the norm and builds a mall to embrace the beauty of the outdoors. Tree-ringed courtyards and green areas were creatively peppered around the shopping centre, giving customers breathing space amid concrete.

The Paya Lebar Quarter Mall in Singapore blends the outdoors with its three concepts of work, home and play areas. The Promenade centres the city fringe precinct as an urban oasis with lush surroundings and park side dining areas, designed to provide an excellent meeting place for families and friends to enjoy communal activities.

Cities and Nature

According to a study by Thomas A. Musil, shopping malls have a critical role as catalysts for redevelopment and revitalisation of suburban areas. ‘Cities need nature, and nature needs cities’, says Pascal Mittermaier. Trees protect cities from natural calamities by cleaning the air, cooling the streets and managing water flow. An abundance of greenery also improves the health and well-being of residents. In forming a sustainable future for the planet, reformatting the concrete jungle into a nature-friendly setting has a positive impact on both people and the environment.

In other parts of the world, more and more cities are scrambling to develop urban parks to retain nature in an ever-growing cityscape. Energy-efficient buildings, car-free zones and outdoor recreational zones are attracting both guests and imitators. It is no coincidence that some of these urban parks happen to be within shopping malls. By combining the smart planning of shopping districts with the ethereal beauty of greenery, developers are trying to create a seamless blending of the urban and the natural.

As the retail industry sees paradigm shifts in the way consumers view shopping, malls of the future must expand their horizons. They must evolve with consumer needs and become the best shopping experiences.