All sale of land makes space a commodity that is typically sold to the highest bidder. This is the epitome of the current social ideology of ‘cash is king’. With this ideology at the heart of a design, social behaviour is no longer orchestrated by the exchange-value organisation of architectural space, but rather, the exchange-value organisation of architectural space is a result of the current social materialistic ideologies of humans.
For example, there is undoubtedly some success to shopping mall developments or they would not be such active places. Providing a safe environment that is operational regardless of the climatic conditions or the hour of day, is conducive to convenience; but beyond that, their spacial organisation encourages shoppers to indulge in materialism and consumer greed. Shopping malls (much like the spaces in casinos) disconnect the human mind from a real perception of time by reducing exposure to natural elements such as light, wind, precipitation and temperature fluctuations. Inside these spaces, the mind is bombarded with thousands of lights, colours, images and subliminal messaging that distracts from the psychological draw-backs of the spaces.
In terms of urban place, the spaces around such buildings are cold and unresponsive to the context. The introverted nature of Shopping Centers and their vast, blank facades are guarded by spaces of flows. Vast parking-lots and bottle-necked transport routes create barren thresholds that illicit no human emotion other that frustration, isolation and restlessness.
It can thus be concluded, that the architectural language of a shopping mall promotes the indulgence of the human senses in materialism over social interaction. As an architectural language, shopping malls represent the current social capitalistic virtues of society at large. The question, therefore, is whether or not the social framework on which shopping centers are modeled, is itself moral and or humane.
With this ‘cash-is-king’ approach to Urban Design and Architecture alike, our cities are doomed to fail us in the long-term. Our buildings will not stand the test of time when functional requirements and cultural climates shift. Future generations may look back at the meaningless buildings created and dismiss them as irresponsible, short-sighted, brutal and feeble attempts to solve the programmatic problems of our social context.
It is important to remedy the damage done, for example, to the old main streets of our cities that were once social and cultural hubs. Townspeople, who owned, operated and served the shopper with years of knowledge and friendship, catalysed culture and community. Going forward, it is the responsibility of developers, clients and designers alike to reject the faceless national chains of a ‘cash-is-king’ design outlook and remember the root purpose of Architecture, being humanity.
My way of design is the timeless way. It is a people centric way of design that puts human sociability and emotion at the fore. We believe in creating social places for human interaction to take place in an organic way so that our cities may have soulful spaces!