‘Boutique City: Designing for Sale’
Wednesday 17 November 2008
The 3rd annual 2A International Conference
Head of Organizing Committee
I would like to welcome and thank you for attending the Third Annual 2A International Conference.
The 2A magazine is based in Dubai and it is distributed regionally and internationally. Each 2A issue has a specific theme and features the best design projects in the region.
The 2A magazine has successfully expanded its activities to include architectural conferences, competitions, awards and forums.
During the first 2A international architectural competition we have received over 500 registered participants from 58 countries.The subject of the second 2A international competition is ‘Retail and Shopping Malls’. Details will be announced in the next issue of the magazine.
The title of today’s conference is ‘Boutique City: Designing for Sale’.
We have invited architects, professors, developers and contractors who will present their work, reach and ideas and all proceedings and content of this conference will be published in the next issue of magazine.
2A conferences will continue to be held annually with different contemporary subjects.
Again, thank you for your presence and I hope you will enjoy the presentations and join the discussions.
I would like to introduce Prof. Mona Al Mousfy who will moderate the presentations and discussions.
“What’s past is prologue.”
William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act II, Scene I. Looking backward isn’t always a bad thing: for example, the current wave of shopping centre design both in the Middle East and North America is looking very much like the cities of centuries past. From California to Dubai, zoning is giving way to integrated uses; fortress malls are opening up to their surroundings; and great retail spaces are becoming great people places.
This really shouldn’t be surprising: In essence, the history of shopping centre design is the history of urban design, because retail gave birth to cities. Humans have always gathered into communities for safety and society. It was only natural that goods and services would then be exchanged there.
In time, trade routes were established along waterways, and other easy transit nodes. This gave us the early great trade routes and capitals, including Jiroft, which according to recent excavations had active trade with Pakistan, Afghanistan and
other areas in the Persian Gulf region as long as 5,000 years ago. Even thousands of years later, the Persian Empire was focused on trade with Mesopotamia (whose capital, Babylon, had itself become an important trade capital as early as 1000 BCE), China and India. The central bazaars in Arak, Susa and other cities, which date from 1200 BCE, became a prototype for outdoor malls, gathering together merchants of various items from spices to jewellery to fabrics. In fact, the word bazaar derives from the Persian word bazar, the “place of prices.”
The souks filled a similar role – descending from caravans that would form temporarily, and evolving into permanent urban fixtures. The souk also filled a social role, with festivals and other celebrations taking place. They were, and remain, sources of entertainment as well as merchandise. Souks and
bazaars do not separate shoppers from goods – the customer can see, smell, touch and hear the sometimes chaotic activity around them; shoppers, vendors and merchandise merge to become a communal experience.
commercial and retail trade occurs there. In Dubai, the Souk Madinat Jumeirah recreates a traditional bazaar, albeit covered and air conditioned, blending tradition and contemporary convenience. Even more recently, the newly opened “Souk” at Qaryat Al Beri in Abu Dhabi offers two levels of Arabian and
international retail with architecture reminiscent of Venice.
The result is a social structure that has lasted for hundreds of years and continues to grow. The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, parts of which date from the 15th century, supposedly includes more than 4,000 shops. Kuwait City, Manama, Damascus, Aleppo and Cairo have world-famous souks, with some of the shops operated by the same family for hundreds of years.
With its winding walkways and narrow streets, in fact, Aleppo’s souk is so elaborate and labyrinthine, that visitors should take care to specify which street they want. Others can be very specific: the Gold Souks in Kuwait and Dubai are among the best places to buy jewellery, though they also feature restaurants.
The souk in Tehran is one of the oldest and largest in the Middle East – at least one report says that one-third of Iran’s The concept of a central location for markets is not exclusive to the Middle East – the idea continued in other cities and civilizations of ancient times. The Greek agora, a large rectangular square surrounded by civic buildings, was a centrepiece of daily life, with more than just materials exchanged: Some 800 years BCE it was a gathering place to hear the latest news. It evolved into a marketplace, where foods, spices, perfumes and fabrics were sold.
Trade began in ancient Egypt about the fourth century BCE, again along waterways with dockside shops selling wares literally off the boats. For convenience, trade was centralized, forming marketplaces that are still the basis of what we all do today. Rome, too, held markets in central areas, then spread the concept as it conquered most of Europe.
In the centuries that followed, Western Europe followed a similar pattern, with trade along water routes and near ports. In the Middle Ages, communities typically formed around churches for security – many of the areas were walled — with the main squares nearby becoming the source of commerce. The weekend market, with local know: Fifth Avenue, the Via Condotti, Oxford Street, the Ginza. These streets are eclectic and alive, with people strolling at all times of the day or night. Elaborate public transportation, either above or below ground, connects people in more distant areas with these streets.
And then in the mid-20th century, the United States created its great suburban experiment, driven by their love affair with the automobile, merchants selling local goods, is still a fixture in many towns.
As the world population grew, and people lived near where they worked and shopped, trade gave us many of the great cities through the early 20th century. London, Paris, Cape Town, Chicago, Shanghai and New York all are located near major bodies of water, allowing for the easy transport of goods. As transit systems developed, these goods could be moved easily and securely to interior areas, permitting the development of other great cities.
Individual building design reflected the cultures and mores of their users because they grew up gradually over decades or centuries. As in medieval days, stores clustered together for convenience, locating along High Streets or Main Streets, creating the great names we and enabled by the post-World War II construction of a massive superhighway system. Zoning laws changed, which allowed the creation of designated areas for residences, office, and retail, surrounded by vast parking lots. The car was necessary to travel among them.
Supermarkets, department stores and small shops that were found on the High Streets began opening outside the cities to serve these new suburbanites. Strip centres, straight lines of connected stores anchored by a grocer or drug retailer, with complementary retail such as a dry cleaner or pizza store, sprung up around the country.
By the early 1950s, department stores also moved to suburbs, eventually creating the dumbbell mall format – an anchor at each end, with small shops forming a retail street in between. Shoppers then were compelled to stroll the entire length to visit both anchors. The big change came in 1956, when Southdale Mall in Edina, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis, was opened. Designed by Victor Gruen, it was completely enclosed, climate controlled, and housed rival department stores in the same complex. This remade U.S.
fashion shopping for decades, and inspired imitators around the
The result was an industry that grew dramatically over the last 60 or so years, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, the New York City-based trade association. if she were in Albuquerque or Atlanta. That’s the antithesis of what retail historically had been and should be around the world – it should reflect, flow into and become an integrated part of the life of its surroundings, just as the souks, High Streets and downtowns of old have done for centuries.
To their credit, developers and shopping centre designers in As of May 2008, there were nearly 99,000 shopping centres in the United States, a figure that includes strip centres as well as malls, with a total GLA of 6.8 billion square feet. That’s a total of 22.3 square feet of shopping centre space per person.
But malls are a declining portion of the total count. At its peak in the 1990s, there were about 2,000 enclosed regional and superregional malls in the United States. Through consolidation, the demolition of outmoded centres and demalling, that number has been reduced to about 1,100 as of 2005, the last year for which data exists. And ICSC acknowledges that the number has probably dropped since.
The early North American projects pretty much all looked alike: fortresses with bare exterior walls, surrounded by asphalt moats for parking. There was no attempt at reflecting the community’s style, and the tenant expansion meant the retailers were similar. It eventually became a joke that a mall shopper wouldn’t know North America began to realize this in the late 1980s and 1990s, designing new projects that architecturally belong in their regions – Mediterranean-influenced in Florida and California, a lodge feeling for a mall in Denver. To some degree, this was mandated by the communities themselves, which have become increasingly active in maintaining architectural integrity.
Meanwhile, the enclosed shopping centre revolution came to the Middle East with the opening of Al Ghurair in 1983, the first mall in Dubai. And mall development has continued, with such extraordinary projects as Nakheel Shopping Malls’ Ibn Battuta Mall, the first themed mall in the Middle East and Mall of the Emirates, which has included entertainment in a dramatic way, and more. But even though these projects are located in a rapidly growing city, the pioneers fell prey to the same trends as early North American models: they are not integrated with their nearby elements. The mall was just another building, nondescript, often isolated, either surrounded by parking or other buildings that didn’t engage the shopper until they walked inside. It was a deliberately planned destination with a single activity:
shopping. There was no design unity with other elements, and moving back and forth between them was not easy. And there are no great urban spaces for public gatherings such as Venice’s St. Mark’s Square, New York’s Times Square or London’s Trafalgar Square.
Interestingly, however, the same trend is taking place in both North America and in the Middle East – the desire to return to the sense of community that created great cities.
In the U.S. and Canada, developers are re-integrating uses, turning to lifestyle centres – open-air projects with retail on the ground floor, topped by offices and or residences to create downtowns for suburbs that never had them. Such projects usually also include a great plaza that is the site of special events, gatherings and festivals and that gives people a reason other than shopping to visit. One example is North Hills, the conversion of an outdated mall in Raleigh, North Carolina, into a complete neighbourhood with retail, topped by office and residential space. The architectural detail, which in this case
includes the brick and structures typical of the American South, strives to give the impression of a community that has evolved over decades, and interacts with the city as a whole. By opening these projects up to the sky, designers are also opening them up to the surrounding streets. Much of the parking is underground or in multilevel structures to avoid the vast parking fields that isolate the projects from its neighbours. That, too, encourages life.
That trend has now come to Dubai: Nakheel Shopping Malls and other developers are committed to building projects whose uses are integrated to form real neighbourhoods, with architecture that includes design elements that are distinctly Middle Eastern.
Ibn Battuta Mall will in time become a community, with office towers, residences, and hotels, connected to Dubai’s new metro system. Various different centres are being integrated into Nakheel’s Palm developments to create mini-cities within Dubai that still integrate into the Emirate as a whole. The retail will not be isolated from the office or the housing. Some even now include outdoor streets that recreate the souks, offering life and activity. We are no longer building “projects”; we are building communities, while continuing the new Dubai tradition of striking design.
The result is a new paradigm that places Dubai and its developers among the world leaders in creating projects that will succeed financially, encourage both social activity and a sense of community, will be sensitive to the environment, and create a legacy to leave to future generations. We are no longer building
for a decade – like the other major cities of the world, Dubai is building for centuries to come.
John Alexander Smith
In October 1984 the celebrated architectural historian, Spiro Kostof, completed the final draft of his seminal work, A History of Architecture. Of significance for some is its intriguing subtitle: ‘Settings and Rituals’ and the author goes on to explain that in addition to architectural style he was just as concemed with use and structure and urban process, with motivation and ritual sequence’. (1) In this way the author proceeded beyond the old architectural maxim of ‘firmness, commodity and delight’ that had sustained countless architects over the previous few hundred years. In turn, Kostof was arguing that in order to understand “the act of building’, we also must appreciate the evolving urban or landform context (setting) and the programmed uses (ritual) of such buildings in any attempt to clarify architectural merit.
Thus having established an inextricable link between interior and exterior architectural design, Kostof also makes the case for urban form and process, not only to confirm the notion of setting but also to help explain the universal experience of making cities!
Dubai’s oldest extant city plan is dated 1822 and confirms a modest coastal trading settlement of about one thousand souls located within a walled compound over a kilometer in length that followed the southem edge of the Creek.(2) Gradually the central business district grew on either side of the seawater inlet and, even after much infrastructural expansion during the
latter half of the twentieth century, a recognizable community based urban character closely linked with each souk, which had previously distinguished both Deira and Bur Dubai, was still evident. However the last six years in particular have witnessed an unprecedented expansion in the urban and architectural character of Dubai Emirate in its seemingly impatient haste to reach developed nation status. While the visual effect is often quite stunning, an emphasis on gated communities, private motorized transportation, intensely planted’ tower blocks, and pedestrian unfriendly public spaces and streets, has a tempering effect on the quality of development, particularly in terms of the human experience; at its extreme a dislocation or detachment from what should be an inclusive society. Furthermore, the notion of sustainability, which belatedly has come to the attention of some authorities, needs to be carefully defined at the various scales of implementation: interior,
ural and urban design. Put simply, occasional quality interiors within indifferent buildings, exciting external building forms containing confusing and poorly configured spaces, and dramatic urban settings of landscape, lakes and towers that diminish the role of architecture to that of an outdoor stage prop. are inherently contradictory and ultimately defective statements of the vision for a new, arguably, global city.
So how can we begin to understand Dubai without reference to first principles?
By asking a simple question (What is a city?), Kostof provides several answers or principles.(3) each of which is calculated to confirm or dispel our prejudices:
Cities are places where a certain energized crowding of people takes place.
This should not be confused with absolute size or numbers and is essentially concerned with ‘settlement density’; Cities come in clusters. An urban system exhibits a hierarchy of subdivisions. Cities are places that have some physical circumscription. Whether material or symbolic, cities have boundaries,
Cities are places where there is a specialized differentiation of work.
Wealth is not equally distributed among its citizens because of differing skills and talents leading to social hierarchies; Cities are places favored by a source of income. Trade, surplus food through intensive agriculture, physical, geomorphic and human resources can each drive significant wealth;
Cities are places that must rely on written records. A city relies on a construct of ownership, rules and regulations
based on a legal mechanism; Cities are intimately engaged with their countryside. Often city form is determined by rural systems of land ownership, hence pre-existing boundaries will influence and shape urban development;
Cities are places distinguished by some form of monumental definition Public buildings give the city scale and landmarks of common identity; Cities are places made up of buildings and people. A city’s form and function, its people’s ideas and values, each contributes to a single phenomenon that can be understood with reference to a “conditional enterprise’.
On considering Dubai in relation to the above, an overall profile can be established that seems to satisfy the principles outlined by Kostof. On closer examination all is not quite what it seems. For example, adoption of CIAM ideas of the 1930s,(4) inherent within the ‘functional city’ concept which regards the metropolis as analagous to a machine, promotes a strictly thematic/utilitarian segregation of city activities, (Internet City, Academic City, Motor City, and so on), while the population is distributed amongst vertical apartment blocks, preferably at widely spaced intervals. In fact these towers are typically
closely grouped together, some linearly along Sheikh Zayed Road, while others are arranged in clusters such as in Dubai Marina, Downtown Dubai and Jumeirah Lake Towers. Even these thematic ‘cities within the city’ are obliged to embrace significant components of retail, commercial and residential development, thus confirming the importance of the end user in the financial viability of such mega developments.
This pragmatism or compunction to readily follow, invent or ignore urban planning ‘rules’ characterizes much contemporary development where, one suspects, the bottom line’ ultimately governs all. In terms of integrating these contradictory messages into an urban coherency, an interregnum in the city’s expansion, in order to take stock of the various policy successes and mistakes, is long overdue and, thanks to the current depressed world economy, may well have arrived. In this way, key infrastructural initiatives such as the Metro can be reappraised not only strategically in terms of an integrated transportation system where pedestrian and human comfort (as illustrated by well ventilated shaded walkways, appropriate selection and layout of landscape vegetation, etc.) become a priority, but also at the local planning scale of neighbourhoods where the quality of life can be reasonably measured in relation to the detail thinking and implementation.
As a consequence of the above, the notion of a ‘compact city’ or a sustainable approach to urban planning and design in Dubai is also overdue. In this way an optimum approach to density and urban form, localized transportation systems, places for work, recreation and residence, can contribute to a viable city existence.
Into this complex matrix of competing urban priorities and facilities is placed the new giant shopping mall. In recent weeks the Dubai Mall and Marina Mall have opened. With its lake setting, the former is positioned alongside the world’s largest tower and two high quality hotels, while the other is located at the base of another substantial hotel tower. One will obviously rely on its association with the giant tower, while the other will emphasize its strategic position within the residential community of Dubai Marina, for its customer base.
Another approach which can be likened to a ‘city within a city within a city’ is the proposed redevelopment of Ibn Battuta Mall and this may actually make a strong connection with its locality thanks to a series of strategically positioned residential and commercial towers that define the north and west boundaries, a domed entertainment centre to the east, the obligatory hotel and, not least, the Metro station connecting the expanded
community to metropolitan Dubai. This integration of city elements and a variety of facilities may signpost an alternative approach towards a recognizably sustainable lifestyle for those not inclined to associate with the gated communities of suburbia or the overdeveloped vertical residential environment of, say, Dubai Marina
Imperfections in integrating with the human requirements of its urban neighbourhood can lead to an underperforming mall. The mall of the future has to embrace something more fundamental than gimmickry. Solid architectural and urban design principles can embrace the notion of ‘settings and rituals’ while answering the question – What is a city?
- Spiro Kostof, History of Architecture Settings and Rituals, 2. ed., Oxford University Press: New York & Oxford, 1995, unpaginated preface. 2. James Horsburgh, Hydrographer to the Honourable East India Company Survey of the Shares and Islands of the Persian Gulf 1820-1829, Volume 4. Chart 26 Trigonometrical Plan of the Back-water of Debai: by Lieut. R. Cogan, under the direction of Liut. JM Guy, HC Marine, 1822. Drawn by M. Houghton IOR: X 3690) 3. Spiro Kostof, The City Shuped. Linhar Patterns and Meanings Through History, Bulfinch Press: New York & Boston, 1991. pp 37-40 4. Congrés International d’Architecture Modeme. Its leading proponent was Le Corbusier whose urban planning ideas were often nothing less than controversial His ideas for Paris would have seen the destruction of much of the Right Bank and the installation of many tower Mackes
WHOM FOR? Designing for shopping, but for whom? Who are the customers and the users? Some exceptional examples might help us to understand who are the customers of the architecture for shopping. One such example is currently happening in Ukraine. After the fall of the Soviet system, the whole market economy of Ukraine was disorganised. Odessa was known for its important container factory, which is now redundant. Hundreds of nonusable or half built containers were available. At the same time, not far from the centre of Odessa (exactly 7 km) an old Kolkhoz existed. The ex-manager of this Kolkhoz had the idea to use the containers to organise a big market on the site that he could purchase from the Kolkhoz. He organised the containers on two floors, the upper one serving for storage and the lower one for selling. The success was immediate and still goes on today. A huge market is established which is now the biggest in Ukraine. Customers come from all over, not only from Ukraine but also from adjacent countries such as Moldavia, Rumania and even Russia. “Km 7” has become a landmark. (fig. 101 – 103)
As a second example I would like to mention an internationally known place, just as important, although totally different. It is Monaco. If the customers of “Km 7” come through necessity, at Monte Carlo they come for luxury. Like “Km 7”, they travel long distances. If the market in “Km 7” expresses efficiency, the shopping mall in Monaco expresses wealth and luxury. (fig. 150 )
And what about Dubai? Why do consumers come to Dubai for shopping? Is it for: – The prices? – The fame, luxury or brands? – The short distances and the easy way to reach the country? – The leisure and fun they can find here? – Or for altogether? Or, is it perhaps for something more? For example for culture, a place to learn, a place for discussion about creation, art, etc.
This leads me to take up another aspect of consumption, the consumption of culture. When we made a proposal for the Pompidou Centre in Paris in the early seventies, we wanted a building like an open market, a consumption centre for culture. A place where everybody, of any social level of the population, would feel welcomed, a real market for culture, where you can find all kinds of products and services, but all related to culture. The Pompidou Centre in Paris is now one of the most visited building in town and a major tourist attraction. (fig. 201-202) A similar but still different experience was our design for the French Cultural Centre in Mexico City. On the site of the historical mansion of the old French embassy, now surrounded by skyscrapers, was planned to establish the new French Cultural Centre. We conceived this building like a shrine around the existing building which would make it as a jewel. This new extension, more than just consumption of French culture, is an interactive place. You can take courses in French cooking, fashion design and so on. So, the client is not only consuming but actively participating. Thus faculties for creation and art crafts are developed. Why ideas like these cannot be used for shopping centres? This would be a change from single consumption to active participation, something that is drastically missing in our world of passive consumption of television and shopping. The design of the building in Mexico is conceived like a big gallery protected from the outside. This space is a contemporary expression of the traditional “French passage’. Externally, big panels allow the building to be protected from the outside violent neighbourhood, which in Mexico City is not a negligible problem, protect the entire complex. At the same time, these screens are usually opened to invite the public to come and show the openness and the radiance of French culture. (fig. 301 – 305) WHERE? To understand the possibility of building shopping complexes, we should remind the major technical inventions of the last century that made it possible to build shopping buildings: – Elevators and escalators gave the possibility to have buildings of several floors. The department store was born. – Ventilation and air conditioning gave the possibility to build big volumes and deep buildings, no longer related to natural ventilation. – The car has made a total change in city planning. Shops and shopping malls can be located as well as expanded horizontally, and as a result, our new towns and endless cities with shopping centres scattered among a sea of cars.
This destruction of our cities, firstly developed in the USA, was then copied all over the world. A major problem appeared, the handling of large numbers of cars. In recent years, in my office, we were very often confronted with the design of car parks. Different from what was generally thought, car parks bring up other criteria other than finding solutions for a maximum number of cars. They compel us to think about human and architectural needs. Also, nowadays, we spend much time in car parks and they are often the first impression, the gateway to the building. Special attention has to be given to their design, their organisation and integration in the building complex. One of the major car parks we designed is the one integrated in our scheme for the central area of the airport at Nice in South of France. The airport is always a stressful experience especially trying to find a place to park, in order not to miss the flight and find your car when you return. Our design proposes internal gardens as a focus point inside the car park. These internal gardens are organized with benches and botanical description of plants. This, somehow unusual feature for the efficiency of an airport, reveals itself to be useful and efficient. Crossing gardens, when taking the plane, are relaxing moments that are extremely appreciated by the users. At the same time, these gardens become also signs on your way. The various planting characteristics (only palm-trees in one garden, bamboo in the other one) help the passengers to find their way back to their car. (fig. 401 – 403) HOW? One of the most delicate issues of the design of a shopping centre is to define its architectural expression. Do we have to refer to traditional examples of architecture, or can it be a new form? If one asks the public what architecture style is their favourite, you will very often find that there is not much originality in the answer. Mostly, the desire is close to what they have already known.
For their own living space this would be to have the same apartment as the neighbour’s, with very little change. No extravaganza, rather conservative. So, how should architects design buildings? Is it just in copying existing known environments, as it is used in worldwide developments, like the shopping area mentioned before of Monte-Carlo? Are new creations desirable? The sign to announce shops and brands is another major challenge in retail design. The ordinary shopping mall “box building” of our suburbs uses external signs (Building +Sign). An evolution to this is to add decoration to the building, which integrates the signs (Building + Decoration=Sign). Real quality comes when the building becomes itself a sign (Building – Sign). (fig. 701 – 704) We were asked to design a “nature centre” (shopping centre for natural products connected with green houses) in the area of the Versailles Castle near Paris. This much protected area near the castle did not allow introducing any sign. We had to find some other way to get the attention to the shopping promises. Why not work with the existing nature of the area, for instance the large fields, as signs in an agricultural environment? Our scheme proposes a land motion. Some fields are detached from the ground as an accident in nature. These fields change colour with the seasons. This “accident” attracts attention and is much more effective than any sign. (fig. 750 – 754)
Not only the shop fronts, but also the shop signs are part of the total concept. Different trades and brands compete through the presence and perseverance of their signs. If we leave this situation without any rules, they can create a visual chaos, where to many flashy shop signs neutralise themselves. We have chosen for the CNIT to invite all shops to use white linear signs and to abandon their usual colour. This demand, which is very difficult for some brands to adopt, seems now to be acceptable and there is a general understanding for the quality and impact of the total. (fig. 940 – 944)
Every detail is conceived to reinforce the global concept of “light”. The offices are organized around an internal garden, where it is possible to have wide openings, something very unusual in an office building. To let in more light the bridges crossing the garden and leading to the offices, are visually reduced in width.
They have on both sides transparent glass panels on the floor which reduces their impact of natural light. (fig. 950 – 957)
All these details contribute to the total concept and create a coherence that ranges from the overall concept to the small details. Quality is achieved through coherence from the total architectural to the interior design and hopefully to shop design. The fewer barriers there are between the different scales of design, the stronger is the concept and the impact of the total.
Cohesiveness in urban settlements, and integration of different parts and uses within the structure of the cities have been the most important features of our urban areas. The opportunities for social interactions as well as possibilities for experiencing the well-respected natural environment within the framework of the harmonic cities, have been the key issues for providing and preserving a high quality of urban life. Gradual development and expansion of our urban areas during the last century, in many cases, have created multi-faceted cities with complex, eccentric and chaotic characters as well as a dynamic quality of life. How ever, in many other cases, in spite of creating outstanding architectural pieces, we find unbalanced new development of the cities with disintegrated uses, and no quality of urban life. The story of retail entities in the latter cities is the same as the case of those other than retail. They lack integrity with other parts, and altogether, they make no contribution to shaping a structural cohesiveness for the cities. In these cases the malls are becoming the most attractive points, scattered in the cities, while the other prototypes of retail entities are disregarded or forgotten. The malls become the destination for daily free time of majority of the population, and the dominant substitutes for all other urban activities. People visit malls for various reasons: shopping, dining, and meeting for business appointments. On the other hand, the malls are absorbing all various aspects of entertainments such as: watching movies, attending spas & gyms, skiing, rock-climbing and in the future perhaps for horseback riding, hunting, and any other activity that one can think of! Even the utopists of 19th century could not imagine such overwhelming mixture of different activities. But, are these malls really successful? Businesswise, there might be, but urban wise, they diminish every aspect of urban life in our cities, absorbing it into their own entities. Eventually there will be no more street life, even around these flamboyant Malls: The streets of our cities become roads, connecting the malls together. Even though they become un motivating and boring, after a while, people still go to malls since there are no other alternatives. It is uncertain weather these scattered mega-structures, extremely expensive, environmentally red, and totally dependant on advanced technology, could tolerate the unforeseen changes of the urban life or the tastes of the people in the long run. In order to make our malls successful and long-lasting, we need to think about their scales, programs, and locations. They should be easily accessible, and promote the urban life and spaces around them. Most importantly, we need to think about our cities, and provision of a lively urban structure. Even once revised, these malls are only one version among many other existing urban activities, and altogether, they generate life within our streets. Finally, I believe it is in the scale of urban design that we can define malls and other urban activities with appropriate sizes, locations, and programs, contributing to the balance and harmony of our cities. In this presentation, I have provided some of my recent urban design projects, aiming to achieve the above goals through applying a larger scale of design.
Master plan for the city of Mashad (1988-1993)
The city of Mashad in North-East of Iran is the second largest city after Tehran. The holy shrine of 8th. Shiites’ Imam is located in the center of the old radius nucleus of the city, with 15 m. pilgrims per year.
During the master plan studies, the population was 1.5 million.\ The old nucleus, although very small in size & resident population, was overdensed with commercial activities, with no structural integration to the other part of the city. The master plan – as a large scale planning process – provided
a broad corridor shape for allocation of city mixed-activities, while connecting the old nucleus to the existing and future expansion of the city with target of 3.8 m. population. This corridor shape of the city center was to balance the density of the old nucleus, and to provide lively main streets with commercial
and other suitable activities along the city. The corridor would also provide the possibility to integrate the city scale natural features with other large city activities such as higher education, medical centers, shopping & recreational activities, within an integrated and balanced structure.
Zakaria II, urban design project – Mashad (2005)
A large vacant area of 500h., on the southern border of the city of Mashad, was the subject for a new residential development for medium and high income class. The estimated population for this area is 60000, and the residential apartment buildings are medium to high rise (from 5 to 18 floors). This area provides a high range of urban facilities, recreation areas, open spaces and a large park. As well as hotels and motels, a city scale museum, and large scale of commercial with office spaces in high rise buildings of 22 floors. A large urban center in the middle of site and between two natural mounds, provides a wide variety of urban scale facilities, such as cultural center, cinemas, sport facilities, shopping malls and office spaces. The following diagrams present the integration of natural elements, such as the 3 natural mounds, a main surface water channel with the city framework.
Two vertical axes provide a spine of green space intersecting with a spine of major city facilities.
Master plan for the Golbahar new town (1988-1993)
Golbahar new town with 500,000 populations was one of the 3 new satellite towns around the city of Mashad to attract the population growth of the capital city, and to provide a better opportunity of planning in 4000 hectares of a vacant land owned by the government. The city was planned to grow in different phases, along a corridor type of city-center. The community facilities & services were also branching off the city-center into the communities of 50,000 population each, in a shape of narrow corridors as well. The neighborhoods with 8000 to 14000 population, were located along these latter corridors. The city center encompasses all varieties of city scale facilities, as well as high density residential apartments. The main street of the city is passing through the city spine, and provides the pedestrians a good opportunity to enjoy the activities along this street. The following diagrams present the process of design, and the photos present views to some existing different urban or neighborhood activities.
Urban design project for the new-town center, Golbahar new- town, Mashad (2004-2005)
A 140 hectares area located as the first phase of the new-town center became the subject of an urban design scale project.
This project provides medium to high residential apartments for 12000 population, as well as a full varieties of city scale facilities.
A Strip commercial boulevard serves as the main street of the new town with commercial, educational, and business offices, in the south part of the center. At the west end of the center a large commercial-business district around a main inner green space is located, and other major urban facilities, such as hospital, vocational school, a large shopping mall are located along the main peripheral artery of the north side of the center. The inner part of the town
center is mainly dedicated to the pedestrians, with larger green spaces. A natural water surface channel, along the city center, provides more opportunities for the residents, employees, customers and visitors to experience the urban life on a natural context. A 60 m. linear park is connecting the two large city scale parks at the both ends of the center. This linear park also functions as the main pedestrian access with different characters through the center.
The following diagrams and 3d views present the process of design and the structure of the city center.
From Street Interactivity to Parametri_city
The pleasure of the Endless Interior
During this talk, a theoretical approach for the design of spaces of shopping in the 21st century is explored, presenting both the shopping mall and the boutique as particular urban destinations and collective social playgrounds of lifestyles. These types of spaces have found a special home in the Gulf and their initial commercial success has opened the way for retailers and developers alike to a rush in building mega structures of consumerism. The traditional souk at the center of the Arab town has evolved to a controlled pandemonium and a sociourban multi-cultural attractor.
What other designed metropolita avant-garde landmarks have failed to achieve, especially in Dubai at the end of the 20th century, the new Arab contemporary malls are the most popular buildings in town despite a somehow predictable architecture, banal layout and familiar typology, but with ingenuity: mainstream mediocrity and popular taste at grant scale.
Spaces for retail are probably few of the most challenging building types developed and refined so well in the 20th century. The hidden strength and persuasive power of shopping and advertising has given architects and planners, whether pragmatists or not, some extra ammunition and possibilities.
Observations extracted from an interactive design approach of behavior patterns, movement of customers and visual stimuli can be expressed in the proposal of commercial landscapes to produce new persuasive experiences and become ‘theaters of shopping’ that everybody loves.
The advertising-inspired artwork ‘I shop therefore I am’ by Barbara Kruger relates the impulse of shopping to a psychological state of empathy and identity. Shopping is a form of acquired identity and adopted lifestyle. Even little time spent in a boutique can enhance your identity.
Analyzing the ‘street’ one can understand the psychology and expectation of shoppers. Contemporary techniques of parametric design can capture and unfold possible scenarios, formal compositions and enclosures that can translate into architectural proposals. Parametri_city as an approach can take
the design for retail to a level similar to a spider web and fashion victims. This is comparable to the subliminal persuasive power of advertising. Dubai’s success as the apotheosis of a city for shoppers can now evolve further to new opportunities, such as aim beyond the generic to a culture of participation and not only visual iconography – even if this is to take place in retail building.
There is an undiscovered social role to be played by the spaces of consumption. What shopping provides above all is an excuse to encounter other people.
The modern shopping mall has not changed in essence since ancient Rome’s street pattern; the line, the street, the boulevard and the public passages surrounded by small shops.
It is possible to compare imperial Rome with contemporary Dubai as the cosmopolitan destination of regional shopping festivities. On another note, the scale and density of 19th century Parisian arcades filled with bourgeois theatricality has found its contemporary expression in the malls of the Gulf. Paris adopted long arcades – at the scale of the city – colonizing ‘cuts’ through urban blocks and creating a phantasmagoria as social interaction. Walter Benjamin in his Arcade Project stated that the shopper in these spaces is deluged with fantastic images that have as their purpose the mystification of the shopping to create a dream world of mass culture.
Back in the Middle East, Isfahan’s 16th century planning exemplifies a unique balance of social, religious, public street life and urbanism based on the street bazaar. The enclosed linear and continuous planned shopping street makes a dramatic contrast to the modest and fragmented small scale of town pattern.
In the postcard-like scenes of street markets in North Africa the entire street is an interactive field, visually stimulating and engaging everyday conditions of the city. Sometimes this street becomes pure utility and services such as loading and deliveries, without any aesthetic value but nevertheless an integral part of the city’s infrastructure. These street scenes of exchange are unique territories for analysis. Some of Dubai’s market places provide such conditions. The spatial and programmatic relation between the street and the shop and the façade at large can be dramatic and theatrical. The interior of the shop opens up and spills out on the street to grab the by-passers: an interaction between architecture and the user. The notion of a ‘parametric-city’, as I call it, or parametric design, where variables of similar items and modules can colonize and be organized as well as re-organized. Variation and psychology together can achieve unique visual settings with the ultimate purpose to seduce by-passers and attract potential buyers. This attribute of the architecture of retail space is unique.
The typology of shopping malls as the ‘avenue’ and the ‘corridor’ is a well-rehearsed layout and it has now infiltrated all communal spaces of cities. The shopping mall is a simple diagram expressed through density, repetition and variety. Its typology has not changed in the last 60 years. All malls look the same in all parts of the world. The lack of any contact to the outside makes these spaces ‘playgrounds’ in the hands of designers. The mall is an autonomous space of absolute control.
Architecture here is like advertising. It is gentle and ruthless at the same time.
Using psychology and experience in an attempt to engage and at times to trap as a ‘space’ can now be decoded as parametric modules and skin, with structural and visual elaborations and variations. Dynamic fields can now be designed and controlled to include movement, attractions and other design components to achieve a formal expression and composition. Architecture becomes props and shallow space as well as gradual and seamless transitions of staged experience in endless interiors of complete artificiality. Paradoxically, this may be a new social order in the making.
2A Conference on Boutique City Good evening everyone. I am pleased to be in Dubai and speaking at this conference.
Thank you to the sponsors and to 2A magazine and it’s editor Ahmad Zohadi for the invitation.
When I arrived Sunday evening, it did not take long to see and hear about how the realities of the global financial markets had begun to affect this part of the world.
This rc-confirms the indisputable fact that we are indeed one planet, one world, and one people. If our markets are global then all of the human institutional structures that support them are Globally one interdependent system, expanding and contracting at variable speeds and rhythms,
but as one entity. It is no longer tenable to think we are immune from anything that happens in a distant places where different languages are spoken. I must say we also share in the good things that are happening as well. Considering these current events, the growing number of critiques focusing on the UAE and Dubai in particular, and a wonderful wide ranging conversation that I had last evening with my friend mark bethel, director of
development for Nakheel, I decided to adjust what I was going to talk about. I will express my thoughts in 3 parts;
A. ideas about cities and people, and places
B. urban projects RoTo (my design studio) worked on with mark bethel, and then
C. concluding positive thoughts in elliptical prose
I am asked 2 questions whenever I meet someone for the first time.
“is this your first time to Dubai?”,
“no,” I answer, “this is my second. The first was one year ago.”
“what do you think about Dubai?”
“it reconfirms that anything imaginable is possible, in the right circumstance.” I answer.
Re: Current Impressions
I see Dubai through the lens of Los Angeles, which is my native city. The author Italian author – story teller, Calvino, in a book ‘Invisible Cities,’ placed the explorer Marco Polo and the Mongol lord Kubla Khan in a palace room Talking about many of the cities in Khan’s empire. Polo described them vividly and imaginatively, in detail as Khan listened, until he stopped Polo and asked if he was describing each city or was he describing Venice, Italy in different ways. Polo said, “I see each city through the lens of my native city, Venice, but it is transformed by the uniqueness of each new city.”
I see Dubai through the lens of Los Angeles, which serves as a reference, but Dubai helps me see my own city in new ways. Los Angeles is still trying to make a livable city after 100 years and we are asking, once again, Is a city for investment and wealth creation, for people, or both. Question?
Is it possible to strike a balance between financial and social modeling?
There are still many buildings searching for a city, for connectivity, for the unimpeded flow of space and activities equal to other invisible flows of currencies and ideas.
Looking out from my hotel room window, on the 38th floor facing easterly, out towards the sea, I am in awe. The amount of work completed since I was last here 1.5 years ago, it seems like 10 years ago. Out my window I see many projects in different states of start and completion, with thousands of workers moving about, as cranes and cars move around one place to another. It takes me back to my childhood and my ant farm.
The work moves at the speed of money, which is a bit faster than thought. People keep pace, almost. Question?
Is it possible to move fast and think deeply?
All of the work in various phases of completion looks incoherent ‘on the surface’ but I know that creative work is whole and coherent in the minds eye to the people with vision. Patience is required to stay focused and calm, and to see what is not present yet.
Re: RoTo’s Context I am a teacher who practices architecture. 2 aspects of one life.
I look at the world with wonder and ask, why is it like that? This is not a criticism, it is a curiosity.
I want to learn, and to know. Everything about everything, although this is impossible, it motivates me.I ask fundamental questions about context and purpose and the nature of the problem at hand. I see all of the parts in relationship. Everything I see, know and
make is informed by the belief that, It’s all one thing We are a unified whole and the primary reason we are here is to re-enact this undisputable fact,
Over and over and over again Through the work we do together.
The work that we do together is a pretext for the relationships we develop and sustain.
Re: Endurance and Creativity The body-mind complex is the most extraordinary medium of creativity that exists.
Our routine conventional activities are not always the best evidence of what we have a capacity to do. But the fact remains that physiologically
Intellectually and Metaphysically We have a deep encoded imprint to create. Creativity is an expression of our survival instinct for endurance. It is life’s
resistance to entropy. To endure we must innovate. Why?
Every organism is embedded in a context of probabilities and uncertainty. If it merely acts repetitively, as if to Reaffirm status quo, the organism will not endure and will surely become extinct in short order.
In turn, it cannot act randomly or spontaneously without the guidance of memory.
Memory and Creativity Conservation and Change Tradition and Invention This relationship is the basis of continuity, connectivity, and coherence.
We are hardwired to search for wholeness in a world of disparate things We must see the world as one
Re: Fast and Slow As children, we were told a story about a turtle and a rabbit. They challenged each other to a race. This seemed odd since the turtle moved slowly and the rabbit moved fast. How could they race? They turtle moved deliberately in a straight line with consistency and a steady pace and focus. The ground below him was rich with detail and pattern, he almost saw into the earth, it seemed – with the description he gave.
The rabbit on the other hand moved fast in many directions, without particular focus, stopping and re-starting multiple times. He moved across a wider territory and saw so much – but without detail or depth.
To our surprise, both finished the race at the same moment.
We always felt like both of them. And we always wondered if they ever shared their different experiences and what the benefits might have been. Could both be one?
Is it possible to move fast? In slow motion? And, is it possible to go deep and wide simultaneously? We wondered. Fast acts, slow recollects. The creative act is one of the intentionality and resistance.
Dubai is a grand experiment, it is constructing a new world at an accelerated pace never before imagined or undertaken at this magnitude or in this way. And to do so it has called upon and opened its arms up to a most diverse human population from around the world.
They have been asked, implicitly to accept this grand vision with the optimism and confidence of pioneer explorers. What is unprecedented is the speed with which this extremely diverse population, speaking almost as many dialects and languages that exist on the planet, has incorporated to work in relative peace and harmony.
This human diversity makes me feel at home. It seems, in some ways, like my city, Los Angeles, where 130 languages are spoken within a 7-mile radius of my home. People living within their communities keep their own traditions and customs alive while forging new relationships in innovative ways for a
common purpose, to create, and to build in real time. It is as if a symphony orchestra were asked to play extemporaneous music.
Yes, there are problems and differences that lead to conflict and (sometimes leaking roofs) But if we act in the present with an eye to the future, with aspirations of constructing better worlds for the children yet to be born, we will continually resolve our conflict, solve our problems and develop affinities for each other’s differences.
Why? Because we believe in our heart of hearts, we must carry on – together if we are to succeed. We cannot do this alone. The vision is too grand, the world being constructed, too complex. And simply, it is a great joy to play like this, in a place like this, with kindred souls like you. All in the memory of one of the greatest adventurers of all, Ibn Bauttuta.
Mark D. Bethel
Merging Art and Commerce:
The Developer’s Role in Retail Design
Art vs. commerce is an age-old battle that developers and designers have fought for centuries – the arguments between Michelangelo and his patrons are the stuff of legend. But commerce becomes even more important when the project being designed is a retail centre, which can and must adapt over the years to the changing concerns and tastes of its customers. In this situation, the role of the developer must do far more than just pay the architects’ bills, because he will be intimately involved in managing the project long after completion. But defining his role and creating a successful partnership with the design and construction team is a matter of delicacy.
One potential problem lies in each professional’s concerns. The CEO of a development company focuses on any number of issues, and while architecture is certainly one, it is not first and foremost in his mind. He also is concerned with leasing, management, maintenance, financing and a host of other issues,
all made more complicated by the unique changing nature of a retail project.
Unlike office buildings or hotels, which also serve the public, retail centres fulfil a variety of societal roles – the exchange of goods, the need for socializing, and the need for entertainment.
An office building or hotel does not, and probably should not, change or surprise its users. A retail centre absolutely must surprise its users (pleasantly) and continue to re-tenant and reinvent itself to serve a fickle public’s short attention span. It also must serve a diverse customer base, from area residents to
tourists to daytime office workers.
Retail centres, thus, are much more intense experiences and require constant management, including re-leasing as stores depart and creating entertaining programs to attract shoppers. It is the developer/manager who manages those ongoing functions, and that changes his relationship with the designer, and his role in a centre’s design. He must be more involved in the initial design process, to make sure that his project will be appealing, flexible and easy to run. Because long after the designers have completed their tasks and won their awards, the developers still must operate these projects for years to come.
Yet the developer must not stifle the designer’s creativity.
Because the developer is the client, and ultimately has the fiscal responsibility for the success or failure of a centre, it’s up to him to set the tone and define his role in the design process. That basically comes down to:
a clear communication of parameters and priorities for designers based on market knowledge and their own philosophies, and then working consistently, fairly and honestly with the architects and the contractors to balance cost-effectiveness and practicality with beauty.
The key to that balance is the business plan: the developer must know his market, his property and his budget. For example, it’s foolish to build an upscale mall in a working-class area. The developer also must be aware of any topographical and infrastructure challenges that will affect the design. He must know the size and type of centre (large, small, one-level, multiple- level, enclosed, open-air), dictated by potential catchment area.
And then he must know his budget. Only when he can give the architect that information can the design process begin. That is how the designer can innovate with feasibility in mind.
DESIGN FOR DESIGN’S SAKE
The developer also must have a feeling for what a market wants and feels comfortable with in terms of layout. He can then give the architect an idea of his own vision, while avoiding design for design’s sake, such as adding palm trees to a mall in Omaha, Nebraska (a project that actually exists). Innovative decorations or a signature look may work well for a tourist attraction such as a museum or even a hotel, but novelty wears off quickly for a project that is so integral to a community as its local shopping centre.
There are exceptions: projects such as the Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas are architecturally themed malls, in this case, evoking ancient Rome. But The Forum Shops is as much a tourist attraction as the casino it neighbours. Overall, clever manipulations of historic architecture such as at Disneyland are
geared more toward tourists. Another design aspect to avoid is a signature look from an architect – a group of malls in different parts of the United States that date from the 1980s all bore Georgian-style doors at their entrances, all designed by the same firm. A shopping centre should evoke its community, not the architect who designed it.
A retail centre doesn’t even really belong to the developer who built and owns it. It belongs to the community. Culture and history play a role in the development of the vision for a project.
Considering these aspects plays into the foundation of the design process by paying homage to the past, while focusing on the present state of mind. Early on, then the developers’ role in design is to understand his audience, to reinforce that the project doesn’t belong to the designer, and convey that to the designer.
A couple of examples from the United States exemplify the idea. The Falls Shopping Center in Miami, Florida, was developed by Courtellis Development in the 1980s. A later owner then doubled the size of the centre, adding additional anchors and small shops. The idea for the expansion was to evoke south Florida’s history as a Spanish colony. Here, palm trees belong and are used to place the project in its setting. The Mediterranean-style architecture also links the centre to its surrounding area. This project won several architectural awards, and is highly successful.
Another such project that marries architecture with a strong business plan is Renaissance Place, a mixed-use development in Highland Park, Ill., a 100-year-old, affluent suburb of Chicago.
The project includes retail, office space, apartments and a fine arts cinema in the middle of Highland Park’s downtown business district. Much like the surrounding area, the project incorporates brick, multiple-story buildings, and areas for people to just sit and read, meet and talk. As with The Falls, Renaissance Place is an extension of its surroundings, and gives the impression of evolving over time. It has also won awards from the Urban Land Institute for its character, style and design.
What did these projects do correctly? Their developers followed the following precepts:
Facilitate designer research
Think of the future
The predevelopment process gives the developer much of the basic information needed to create a successful design – the size of the centre or centres; the type of retail that must be included to fulfil both the community’s needs and the developer’s pro forma; the community’s attitudes toward development and
architectural styles; and even to some degree the configuration, based on the size and shape of the land plot. But giving that preliminary information to the architect is just the beginning of the design process.
A preliminary budget also is important. The developer must know how much he is prepared to spend and the point at which the project is no longer feasible. This number will be reassessed at every step of the design process to ensure that no errors occur, and that the project can be pushed along or stopped before too much time or money is wasted.
All of this helps the developer guide the architect. The same data that gives the developers’ leasing staff information on what retail is missing in the community also gives background on a community’s mores and non-retail needs, be they a community gathering place, prayer room or playground. The developer must supply this information from the beginning to give the architect his vision – the design parameters to work with. The budget, too,
helps to guide design and material choices.
But even in situations where developers have a strong design sense, most architects will need to do their own research. The developer must facilitate that, allowing sufficient (but not exorbitant) budget for travel and exploration, where appropriate.
Nakheel Shopping Malls sent its U.S.- and Dubai-based design firm around the Middle East to examine the architectural elements that will make its upcoming Palm Mall Deira a truly Middle Eastern centre. The architects visited citadels and souks, and examined courtyards, mosques and prayer rooms to find the details that will make the centre instantly comfortable to its users. The result is a project that will feel like a particularly well-appointed home, and will welcome its users like family.
Once all of that has been given to the designer, the developer just doesn’t walk away – these projects are complex, and collaboration is critical. (Though more than one architect undoubtedly would call it interference!) The give-and-take of regular meetings helps create a more useful, practical centre. While it’s the architect’s job to interpret the developer’s vision into reality, the developer also must learn to trust the architect’s work, even if it means letting go of a long-cherished idea, to make the project succeed. Even though the developer makes the final decision, compromise is key.
Compromise is true particularly of another major requirement for developers – controlling the costs. This is particularly challenging today as commodity prices fluctuate wildly, resulting in skyrocketing construction costs that are rising faster than rents. Yet responsible spending must be balanced with a commitment to quality.
As a result, the developer’s role has expanded in recent years to include pushing his designers to find affordable materials, regardless of their location. For example, the credit crunch in the United States has stalled many projects, allowing developers in other parts of the world to purchase their steel and other materials. The developer also should track new technology and materials himself to make sure that he is getting the most for his development funds.
All of that flexibility also will be important as the developer looks to the future. The shopping centre has evolved in North America and elsewhere from simply a place to shop to a downtown core for suburban communities, but this means that the projects themselves must be more flexible to remain relevant for decades.
Today’s developers are asking designers to look not just at what a market’s needs are now, but what they could be 10, 15 or 20 years from now.
That isn’t easy to predict, but it is essential. The Houston Galleria mixed-use complex was truly suburban when it opened in the 1970s. Today, Houston has expanded beyond it, and the mall has become a second downtown. When Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai opened in 2001, little development surrounded. Today, Dubai has grown around it, affecting the expansion that is taking place.
The developer must think long-term about how a project will evolve if a market continues to grow, as in the examples above, or if the trade area undergoes demographic change – the young single professionals shopping at a centre today may be young families in a decade. The family with teenagers today
will be grandparents all too soon. The landlord must consider how that will affect their needs and design accordingly. Can a parking deck be converted to residential space in 15 years? The developer must push the architects for designs that will give him that flexibility, particularly in still-evolving areas of the world like Dubai, Eastern Europe, India or China. By following these precepts, by determining realistic parameters and giving them to the designers early;
by permitting the designer to do the research needed to interpret those parameters; by engaging in healthy communication with a willingness to compromise; by using all of the above to control costs to create fiscally responsible projects; and by keeping an eye on future needs, The developer will have done all he can to ensure that the designer will create an innovative, high-quality centre with an aesthetic that will appeal to his shoppers. He will have created a project that not only looks spectacular, but also makes a community. And both developer and designer have done their jobs.
SUSTAINABILITY IN INTERIOR DESIGN
Why green interiors? We spend 90 percent of our time indoors, which means the built indoor environment has direct effect on human health and well being, as well as substantial impacts on the greater natural environment. Green interiors contribute to a healthy and comfortable indoor environment, reduce the impact on the natural environment, save energy, conserve naturals resources and are also economically beneficial. Green interiors emphasize on responsible use of resources, including space, energy, water and materials. Green interiors need not cost more than conventional interiors, and still yield ongoing value and benefit that is surely much more than the initial investment Green interiors add a strong selling point for owners, designers, contractors, and tenants due to lower operating cost, reduced liability, and improvement to occupant health, morale, and productivity. Earlier and even today green interiors are wrongly misktaken as a passing fad or some strange notion adopted only by environmentalist, but the fact is that only those who have opted for green interiors are the ones who are enjoying the benefits. Due to its various benefits green interior designing is a fullfledged profession Style practiced by leading Interior designing firms including ARCO in Dubai The basic objectives of green interiors are to save energy and electricity, Maximize durability, maximize use of renewable natural resources, save water, use green materials, minimize waste, promote healthy indoor-outdoor environments, undo or stop the negative effects to the environment and recycle or reuse whatever possible. Interior design is a branch of architecture that specializes in the interior aesthetics, type of usage of an interior space and often have meet with the requirements of multiple-users. Even
though process of interior design is generally very similar to architecture, Interior designers can work independently, where the building envelope is already established, or alongside architects on larger projects where the interior elements of the design demand the expertise of both.
ADVANTAGES PROVEN BY STUDIES Green interiors are advantageous in many ways:
-Energy used by green interiors is 50% less than other interiors -Carbon dioxide emission in green interiors is 39% less than other interiors. -Water usage in green interiors is 40% less than other interiors -Solid waste in green interiors is 70% less than other interiors – With an improved quality of life our children’s future is guaranteed to be healthier -Reliance on depleting oil-energy is expected to increase thus green interiors are a must. -Will help to reduce global warming -Stabilizes use of our environments supply of natural resources. -Green interiors occupants are healthier and more productive, which is why the demand for green interiors is expected to drastically increase in the near future. -Green design makes efficient use of most space and even small spaces. -Research has proven that many conventional materials commonly used today have a negative effect on the users and produce a variety of undesirable conditions which has been termed by the media as “Sick Building Syndrome. So before the execution of any design, all materials must undergo thorough investigation and use of green sustainable materials must be promoted to eliminate this “Sick Building Syndrome’ effect.
THE ROLE OF THE INTERIOR DESIGNER DURING STAGES OF A PROJECT
Most clients are interested in eco-friendliness but are not aware that interior designers are able to execute eco-friendly interiors It is important to encourage clients, contractors and consultants to contribute to creating a green building at the earliest stage possible in the project. If sustainable design is set as a goal at the initial stage of any project it will be a success and will be far easier to execute than if there is an attempt to add-on half way through the design. In retail shops this will add value to the interior space as costumers are interested in brands that support eco-friendliness and this obviously will boost up sales. On commercial projects, interior designers play the main role in spatial analysis based on the eventual use of the building, so it is necessary to conserve space and not waste it. We need to make the most out of whatever we have iemake maximum utilization of space through efficient and functional design. Reduction of floor space does not mean reducing the quality of an interior. We have to follow the example of many companies that have opted for open rather than cellular designs. Although these designs are chosen primarily for controlling rental and energy expenses, they do indirectly have a positive green effect and this benefit should be noticed. The reduction in space requirements will minimize land, space and energy required to build and maintain the building during construction and lifespan.
In earlier cases when a building or an architectural element is constructed, its interior is designed only for a specific use which may be temporary or permanent, and even though the building is capable of being reused for other purposes it is not designed that way. As time passes and the new clients want to use the building for other purposes, the building is demolished and a new one is erected to different than the first one in terms of “one specific use. The method was useless and causes more problems than it solved.
DON’T BUILD NEW… RE-USE THE SPACE:
Some pioneering architects have come-up with the technique of reimaging, remodeling and renovating and is an efficient method which is becoming popular in the region, it is called “Fit-Out’ Fitting-out is a term used to describe the non-structural interiors of an existing building (or a building project where the envelope is designed by a separate architectural team). A fit-out can have many advantages over new-build not just in terms of the projects environmental impact. The re-use of an existing building envelope is in fact recycling the majority of materials and energy used during the original construction. This technique can be used in cases like fit-outs, which often have a much shorter design-life than the base-building and therefore care should be taken in the selection of materials and construction techniques to maximize flexibility, recycling opportunities, simplicity of demolition and disposal. In recent buildings architects and interior designers work together and pre-plan in order to meet with the evolving requirements of the various occupants of the space i.e. design which is flexible, sustainable and thus can adapt without reconstruction or regularly moving to new premises. The most important factor is that the building can accept a variety of occupants during its usage without ever having to do any kind of major structural changes, thus giving the building an increased lifespan.
VALUE OF INTERIOR ENVIRONMENT
Interior designers face a difficult problem when it comes to designing interiors for entire buildings as this involves creating an artificial environment for large number of occupants. Creating an artificial environments is not easy as it has to deal with lighting, ventilation, temperature, provision of easy access to utilities (e.g. restrooms) and even foreseeing hazardous events such as accidental fire and designing methods to deal with these in a systematic way. Green interiors use materials and techniques of design that are completely eco-friendly, so they cannot harm the natural environment and instead they ensure better air quality of the interior environment.
GREEN INTERIORS AS A NEW STYLE
Green interiors generally started out as mean to supports sustainability with increased use of recycled and eco-friendly materials and to minimize the negative effects of artificial & eco-damaging materials, but now it has emerged as different and unique style of its own. High-profile architects and designers have identified this growing style and have published many articles in popular interior design magazines and books. It is recognized as the style that combines various natural and artificial elements of an interior into an engineered, functional but environmentally pleasing and acceptable aesthetic, usually without any kind of useless decorative elements. n today’s market where clients own a paritcilar brand,they try to project an image of high status, power and wealth. Instead of using innovative and functional designs, they use their interiors to make an impression on customers. This image will only satisfy clients but if we take a look what image the consumers or the majority of people are looking for, it is obvious that they are interested in brands and names that are concerned about the environment. Economically green interiors reduce the cost of running and maintaining by a large margin. Green interiors/ design is modern and with limitless opportunities of exploration and innovation one can say it is the future of interior design. As it gets more and more recognized, the demand for such interiors is likely to increase, thus making it necessary to adopt or be a part of it and find innovative and new techniques to meet with the rising demands of the clients. The sooner we embrace, the better, as these pioneers will define first the basic principles of this style and lead the way for others to follow.
CASE STUDY OF CONCEPTS DEVELOPED BY TIMBERLAND AND EXECUTED BY ARCO
We at ARCO do not just raise awareness, but also practice what we preach as shown below in the concept designed by TIMBERLAND and locally executed by ARCO.. The concept’s basic idea is the following:
Timberland is a brand that has always been passionately committed to reduce global warming and making the outdoor environment better, to enjoy today and tomorrow. -Make use of more renewable energy, more recycled and renewable materials, less waste, less chemicals and more trees from sustainable forests in stores.
-Make use of earth-conscious, sustainable, reclaimed and recyclable materials Showing transparency of the brand through the nutrition-label and programs like “The Earthkeepers colletion and Plant One On Us! -Flagship: Following strip out, if old walls are in good condition leave some sections inside to retain original character. For example, leave exposed brickwork or existing wall covering (e.g. tiles and wallpaper) especially if they offer interest or an historical story. Ensure old surfaces are made safe and local regulations are followed. -Feature door: an actual set of old doors from a salvage yards or store is to be used in the concept. They need to be locally produced and fitted to suit the design -Totem: Use large sections of reclaimed timber. Make safe but leave original surfaces and random fixings. Create large light boxes with minimum size of 1200 X1200mm and maximum of 2400 X 2400mm. In all stores the totem should be positioned centrally, -Ceiling Principles: The ceiling is a key feature within the concept. The objective is to create a feeling of walking through a forest of dappled light. The ceiling has beams that are very much like those used in simple construction of wooden buildings from all over the world. Ideally, use of Parallel Strand Lumber (PSL) beam to create the ceiling effect, with light shooting down through and the totem appearing as if it is crashing up through the ceiling
Decoration: The wall colors selected for the concept to resemble natural and organic materials. The key colors terracotta, cream and green work in harmony with the natural materials throughout the store. The main objective is to minimize decoration work and, where possible and appropriate, reveal the structure of the building to appear honest and real.
-Flooring: Usage of existing flooring if possible, usage of concrete tiles instead of all over screed. Usage of reclaimed wood for flooring like rustic grade oak with less than 15% of surface oil painted.
-Changing room: Reclaimed timber door with leather detail and leather strap handle. Full width and height mirror with ‘Timberland’ Tree Logo. Reclaimed wall with character reclaimed timber and ‘found’ hooks for hanging garments. Full width and height graphic wall with iconic outdoor imagery applied as wallpaper.
-Cash-Desk: The cash-desk needs two till stations. Constructed in poplar-faced ply. Adapted to suit local till equipment. Top finished in leather and poplar. Reclaimed timber ‘off-cuts’ from furniture manufactured with leather inserted to create reclaimed cladding. Ensure ‘off-cuts’ are made safe to touch.
-Furniture: Make use of reclaimed, re-engineered wood and other recyclable materials for all furniture. (The above information is with reference to the Timberland manual book)