Shopping Mall , the Study of Space Syntax

Topics: Shopping mall, Retailing, Power centre Pages: 9 (3216 words) Published: October 30, 2010
The Mall
A shopping centre, shopping mall, or shopping plaza, is the modern adaptation of the historical marketplace. The mall is a collection of independent retail stores, services, and a parking area, which is conceived, constructed, and maintained by a separate management firm as a unit. They may also contain restaurants, banks, theatres, professional offices, service stations etc. A shopping mall, shopping centre or shopping precinct is one or more buildings forming a complex of shops representing merchandisers, with interconnecting walkways enabling visitors to easily walk from unit to unit, along with a parking area – a modern, indoor version of the traditional market place.

Looking into some of the most popular architecture hand books for architecture students like the Neuffer Architecture's Data in Europe or the Time Saver Standards in the USA, suggests that the function is approached in architectural design mainly as a sequence of human actions coupled to equipments in order to satisfy specific practical requirements on a daily basis inside a given spatial unit. If the form follows functions, then space is seen as a container, as an element subordinated to objects and functions not with intrinsic properties and, therefore, as a secondary component in the design process. This architectural hand books´ approach to design seems to be based by the idea that architecture is a combined process that identifies the right place of objects and how many square meters people need to use them. Then, once an area is defined and combining areas properly would be enough to generate architectural forms. Arguably an approach to architectural designs based on functionalist ideas of design in the guise of a rational and efficient use of materials and square meters, forgets the most fundamental fact of space. Space is generated in the midst of social activities, constraining and representing society and 'it constitutes a form of order itself (Hillier and Hanson, 1984:9) which is perhaps the most important form of order that architectural students should learn to be able to achieve in their designs.

Thus, Space syntax which is the subject of this study is a scientific or research based approach for understanding and evaluating architectural space. Space syntax is a theory about space and human behaviour, which, together with tools and methods for analyzing human interaction in the built environment, examines the impact of accessibility in spatial layouts on behaviour, communication and interaction. Space syntax is defined as ‘a family of techniques for representing and analysing spatial layout of all kinds’ (Hillier 1999, 165), and its aim is to develop strategies of descriptions for configured, inhabited spaces in such a way that their underlying social logic can be recognised. Space syntax is based on the use of computer techniques to analyse urban configuration. In the words of Hillier et al (1987, page 363): ``Space syntax ... is a set of techniques for the representation, quantification, and interpretation of spatial configuration in buildings and settlements. Configuration is defined in general as, at least, the relation between two spaces taking into account a third, and, at most, as the relations among spaces in a complex taking into account all other spaces in the complex. Spatial configuration is thus a more complex idea than spatial relation, which need invoke no more than a pair of related spaces.'' Space Syntax is a spatial analysis theory that was born inside the architecture field. It is rooted mainly in architecture knowledge neither philosophy nor mathematics however it has a strong philosophical foundation and mathematical base of evaluation tools. Even though Space Syntax is a subject of postgraduate studies and it is a high complex spatial analysis research tool, it is feasible introducing novel architectural students to its...
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