Centre for Architecture Theory Criticism History
School of Architecture

The Janus-faced Shopping Centre: The Low Countries In Search of a Fitting Shopping Paradigm

Monday, 20 July 2015

ATCH Lunch, July 29, 1.15-2.00pm/ Exhibition Space (level 3), Zelman Cowan (Building 51). 

 The Janus-faced Shopping Centre: The Low Countries In Search of a Fitting Shopping Paradigm

Janina Gosseye

When in the mid-1950s, the shopping centre typology reached the Low Countries, it confronted governments, policy-makers, architects and planners with the question: how to introduce and adapt this novel commercial typology to the local context? To respond to this question, several ‘missions’ were organised to study this phenomenon abroad. The conclusion was that two distinct shopping centre paradigms existed: The American model, as it could be observed in the United States and Canada, and European model, as it had emerged in Sweden, France and Great Britain. This paper investigates what these missions identified as the distinctive characteristics of these two shopping centre models and which specific recommendations regarding urban and suburban retailing and distribution were derived from them. Finally, the paper examines how these suggestions were implemented in or translated into the first shopping centre designs in the Low Countries: ‘Shopping 1’ in Genk (Belgium) and Amstelveen shopping centre in The Netherlands.  

All welcome