Part 2- The Right To STAY

Nowadays we don’t think of the public spaces in shopping malls to be a public space, we assume that it is a semi-privatized property. However, it was not the original intention. The pioneer of shopping malls, Victor Gruen emphasized that malls should afford “opportunities for social life and recreation”, shopping is complementary to this. I can only imagine his guilt and anger when he found out that his idea was exploited by the capital to create malls we see nowadays that have shopping as their main and only goal.

Although there are still visible open spaces in Singapore malls, as William Lim puts it, they “may look similar to traditional public spaces, but in reality they are greatly restrictive and diminished in affordability and social meaning.” Even the act of staying in a mall for purposes other than shopping is not encouraged. Sociologists such as William H. Whyte and Jan Gehl have been studying how people behave and use public spaces. And they both acknowledged that it is important for a social space to encourage people to stay, to partake in the happenings in that space, which makes up our everyday encounters with people.

The subtle act of staying is thus a right that is important yet often intentionally neglected. Therefore, in Part 2, I am looking at how public spaces in shopping malls can be designed to encourage people to stay for social and recreational values.

No Place For Staying

Privatization and regulatory measures have made staying in a shopping mall for non-commercial activities not encouraged. But the intention of the pioneer of shopping mall Victor Gruen was the complete opposite. Architect William Lim and Gruen share similar values of having the "open and resting areas as well as other non-commercial activities to facilitate interaction between users of the mall."

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