Part A – Introduction
Aerial view of High Street Mixed-use Development Project designed by Basics Architects
The future of commercial developments in our country is currently facing a dilemma due to various market forces. What typology of commercial developments will succeed in India? This series of articles will attempt to derive the best viable design typology and developmental model for mixed-use commercial developments in India.
The early 2000s saw a sharp increase in the number of shopping malls in our cities and towns due to rapid urbanization. The ‘Mall culture’ was blindly replicated across the country. However, these developments failed to attract and retain enough customers. They have been largely unsuccessful due to prohibitive rents and high maintenance costs caused by inefficient design, poor maintenance, and inadequate retail mix. On the other hand, the traditional bazaars, while being part of our social life & culture, have also seen a steep decline in footfalls since they do not meet increasing user expectations.
In order to be successful, mixed-use developments need to achieve the right balance between three main parameters, namely cost economics, sustainability, and creating a memorable spatial experience.
Apart from designing aesthetically-pleasing shopping environments, architects have a huge role in making a commercial project feasible. Some of the factors that help in sustaining a mixed-use commercial development are space efficiency focusing on optimum space utilization, the right mix of programs that cater to all age groups, and reduction in maintenance costs and energy bills by efficiently utilizing resources.
People in our cities do not have access to public spaces for their leisure and entertainment. Most of the time the overall experience is so poor that these spaces remain unused. Commercial developments are a huge opportunity to create safe and secure public spaces with ample open and green areas. Modern commercial developments should also capture the essence of our traditional Bazaars by providing an active and informal environment to keep people engaged. Most importantly, the long-term success of commercial developments can only be ensured by providing memorable spatial experiences for users.
As the world becomes more environmentally conscious, it is of utmost importance that new developments are sustainable and have a low carbon footprint. They need to be designed for the climate to ensure energy efficiency which will have the added benefit of reducing operational and maintenance costs. An equally important step towards sustainability is the integration of nature in our commercial developments.
Stay tuned for the next article in this series, which will examine in detail the role architecture and design has to play in the cost-economics of mixed-use development.
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