Ash­win Sheth, Sheth De­vel­op­ers

Shop­ping has moved beyond just sell­ing and buy­ing; it con­tains emo­tions and in­ter­ac­tion of peo­ple, mak­ing it a ne­ces­sity for malls to be a des­ti­na­tion for a plea­sur­able out­ing

VM&RD - - CONTENTS - By Ash­win Sheth

Sales and foot­falls in malls to­day no longer solely de­pend on the of­fer­ings in terms of brands and en­ter­tain­ment op­tions. The dif­fer­ence be­tween the old vil­lage square and to­day’s shop­ping mall is the amount of so­cial in­ter­ac­tion. Shop­ping has moved beyond just sell­ing and buy­ing; it con­tains emo­tions and in­ter­ac­tion of peo­ple, mak­ing it a ne­ces­sity for malls to be a des­ti­na­tion for a plea­sur­able out­ing. There­fore, it has be­come an ut­most pri­or­ity for mall de­vel­op­ers and ar­chi­tects to de­sign their prop­erty in­no­va­tively to at­tract and keep the cus­tomer en­gaged at the mall. Over years, re­tail has evolved from high street shops to multi-level shop­ping malls. But in spite of all th­ese vari­a­tions, few con­stants such as lo­ca­tion, ac­cess, vis­i­bil­ity, good park­ing, a well-planned foot­print, food va­ri­ety and a good ten­ant mix con­trib­ute to a mall’s de­vel­op­ment and suc­cess.

Ex­te­rior Plan­ning

Most of the up­com­ing malls to­day are based on the con­cept of con­tem­po­rary de­sign with added el­e­ments of clas­si­cal ar­chi­tec­ture. In or­der to have a mall that re­flects the im­age of a great ‘hang­out’ zone, a com­mit­ment to ma­te­ri­als of per­ma­nence and qual­ity is re­quired. Nat­u­ral and man­u­fac­tured ma­te­ri­als such as cut stone, con­crete, brick and stucco are ex­te­rior wall ma­te­ri­als that pro­vide a co­he­sive and con­sis­tent ar­chi­tec­tural character that helps unify the mall vis­ually. Build­ing sur­faces should ide­ally be light in colour. An im­por­tant as­pect while de­sign­ing a mall is to reg­u­late the traf­fic cir­cu­la­tion. In­ter­est­ing align­ment of land­scape is­lands and drive­ways along with canopies and trel­lises fa­cil­i­tat­ing pedes­trian traf­fic is ideal for malls with large spa­ces. For malls with small park­ing spa­ces, the traf­fic should be fa­cil­i­tated with mul­ti­plex egress/ingress points.

In­te­rior Plan­ning

Ten­ant mix is an al­ter­na­tive term for brand mix, and an area where one sim­ply can­not af­ford to go wrong. Mall de­vel­op­ers first iden­tify their an­chor ten­ants and then build their ten­ant mix around it. For­mu­lat­ing the right ten­ant mix based on zon­ing not only helps at­tract and re­tain shop­pers by of­fer­ing them mul­ti­ple choices and sat­is­fy­ing mul­ti­ple needs, but also fa­cil­i­tates the smooth move­ment of shop­pers within the mall, avoid­ing clus­ters and bot­tle­necks thus cre­at­ing a win-win sit­u­a­tion for both shop­pers and re­tail­ers. Another im­por­tant con­cept to be kept in mind is 'clus­ter­ing' - a process of gath­er­ing ten­ants of the same type into the same lo­ca­tion. The de­vel­op­ers can have clus­ters in all re­tail groups such as fash­ion, food, men's wear, ladies wear, en­ter­tain­ment, etc. When you have clus­ters of ten­ants, the cus­tomer has an ac­cess to a va­ri­ety of op­tions in a sin­gle cat­e­gory with­out any in­con­ve­nience. Thus, sen­si­ble bundling of te­nan­cies will fur­ther im­prove the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence at a re­tail prop­erty. Like­wise, malls and movie the­atres have a sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship. When you have a mul­ti­plex within a mall, there’s al­ways some­thing to do be­fore and after a movie. The most spe­cial fea­ture that many malls have im­bibed is the fan­tas­tic cus­tomer­friendly cir­cu­la­tion pat­tern both ex­ter­nal and in­ter­nal which en­sures that mall foot­falls con­vert into store foot­falls, en­sur­ing that all the lev­els are con­nected so well vis­ually not leav­ing a sin­gle store unat­tended. Mall spa­ces should ide­ally be swamped with F&B out­lets on both sides, with in­for­mal seat­ing spa­ces and wa­ter fea­tures form­ing an ideal hang-out space for all age-groups. It also cre­ates a pos­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment wel­com­ing cus­tomers for ex­plor­ing the in­te­ri­ors with greater shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence. The de­sign should match in­ter­na­tional stan­dards not only with its unique ar­chi­tec­ture but also with its thought­ful­ness to­wards pro­vid­ing best of fa­cil­i­ties like an ideal mother-care room, des­ig­nated park­ing for phys­i­cally chal­lenged amongst oth­ers. Food courts play a key el­e­ment in a mall. It isn’t just about serv­ing food. Food courts are the places where peo­ple meet and their pur­pose does not end at want­ing to get peo­ple to eat and leave but in­stead to meet friends, fam­ily, talk about their shop­ping and spend qual­ity time to­gether. Food courts should have high-qual­ity, com­fort­able fur­ni­ture which en­able con­ver­sa­tion. The food court op­tions should al­ways be in sync with the ten­ant mix at the mall. It should be an invit­ing space and have op­tions of a few fine din­ing restau­rants along with fast food chains to com­ple­ment the ten­ants. Be­ing the sec­ond most im­por­tant as­pect in a mall as grab­bing a bite after shop­ping or after a film, food courts should al­ways be pleas­ant for the cus­tomers. Thus, main­tain­ing a bal­ance be­tween en­ter­tain­ment, food and re­tail space is equally im­por­tant to en­sure that lack of suf­fi­cient op­tions of any one of th­ese does not be­come a dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing fac­tor in a mall-visit decision. This en­dows the cus­tomer an en­riched holis­tic shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence en­hanc­ing the pur­pose of the visit. The length of a shop­ping trip is di­rectly con­nected to sales per square foot. Mall de­sign­ers are now cre­at­ing zones in a mall cater­ing to dif­fer­ent au­di­ences. Spe­cial food zones like sushi bars, play ar­eas, business cen­ters to surf the in­ter­net are some in­no­va­tive ideas that malls can now in­cor­po­rate. To make a visit to the mall more per­son­alised, care­fully cho­sen tex­tures

us­ing stones, wood, strate­gi­cally placed props& fur­ni­ture, and the right light­ing help cre­ate a homely and re­laxed feel.

Sus­tain­abil­ity

With the world be­com­ing a more en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious place, malls too need to keep in mind the need for en­ergy sav­ing and sus­tain­abil­ity. It lies in a de­vel­oper’s in­ter­est to ac­knowl­edge the aware­ness of green build­ings amongst peo­ple to­day. Roof­ing sys­tems of a mall should com­prise ex­cel­lent acous­ti­cal and heat in­su­la­tion val­ues. Tiles that act as an ef­fec­tive re­flec­tive ma­te­rial for heat re­duc­tion and wall pan­els that give bet­ter heat in­su­la­tion value should be used while build­ing a mall. To in­crease the en­ergy sav­ing po­ten­tial, oc­cu­pancy based and timer based sen­sors should be in­stalled. The up­ward out­door light­ing should be limited, hence safe­guard­ing the noc­tur­nal life of the birds and in­sects. Sim­ple steps that con­trib­ute to­wards en­vi­ron­men­tal con­scious­ness such as sep­a­rate waste bins for dry and wet waste, re­cy­cling sta­tions at park­ing ar­eas for the dis­posal of pa­per and glass give added value to a mall in this age of en­vi­ron­ment con­scious cit­i­zens. On the whole, the de­sign and ar­chi­tec­ture of a mall pro­vides a plat­form that can trans­form a sim­ple shop­ping trip into a so­cial event, at­tract­ing and re­tain­ing cus­tomers with its var­i­ous well placed of­fer­ings. Care­fully de­signed malls also sat­isfy and cater to the re­quire­ments of to­day’s cus­tomer that is con­scious about the en­vi­ron­ment.

Ash­win Sheth, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor

Sheth De­vel­op­ers

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