Asia's economic boom is reflected by the development of modern temples of consumerism. Nine out of ten of the biggest shopping centres in the world are now located in Asia. Much more than simply being opportunities for shopping, these centres are increasingly turning into amusement parks and lifestyle centres with shops attached. In February 2012, Emporis generated a ranking of the world's largest shopping malls (by gross leasable area) and analysed current developments.
The original idea of the shopping mall was developed in the USA – the first one was built in Minneapolis in 1956. The economic boom in Asia resulted in increasing consumption the construction of mega malls. Nowadays, Asia has more shopping malls than the US; the two largest can be found in China.
The following comparison might help to illustrate the astounding dimension of these shopping centres: the second in the Top 10 list, the Golden Resources Mall, offers 557,419 m², which is about the size of 75 football pitches. But it's not all rosy for all mega malls in Asia: the South China Mall, the world's largest mall with a commercial area of 600,153 m², reports a high vacancy rate due to decreased customer frequency. It is known as a dead mall.
Successful mega malls are increasingly turning into lifestyle centres, serving as commercial space for a variety of businesses and but also as tourist attractions. Dubai Mall for example offers an ice rink and an aquarium on its area of 350,244 m². The Persian Gulf Complex will have an indoor amusement park, a prayer room and a helicopter landing pad.
Another strategy strives to unite architecture and environment. The 1 Utama Mall in Malaysia offers an indoor rainforest with koi basins for example and Southeast Asia's largest roof garden can be found here. At CentralWorld in Thailand, you can watch sea lions swimming in the indoor salt water lake. In order to survive as a mega mall it has become popular to integrate offices and residential space in the centres, as can be seen in Cehavir Mall in Turkey.
The discovery that consumer behaviour can be animated by social measures has changed the architecture of shopping malls. Especially the new lifestyle centres represent an effective way to motivate customers to buy and guarantee profits.
Emporis is a provider of building data and construction projects; an Emporis Skyscraper Award is presented annually. Emporis