Retail architecture - creating success in the retail sector

By Ir. Jasmijn Prinssen, architect with Jos de Vries The Retail Company

For many architects, ‘commercial architecture’ is a dirty word. ‘Commercial’ is linked to ‘compromise’ in the minds of many; the art and architectural vision must make way for commerce. People rich in money but poor in taste have the last word, and many spatial artists view this as selling your soul to the devil.
But I see this extra dimension as a challenge. In addition to the fact that a building must harmonise with the urban planning and meet reasonable requirements for prosperity, each building should strike a perfect balance between space, form and function. The challenge in designing a shopping mall is not only about seeking this balance, but also about adding that extra layer allowing it to become a commercial success. So, what factors come into play?

The building must be accessible, stimulate a certain degree of curiosity and be inviting. The goal is to encourage people to visit the building more often, how dynamically and flexibly can the building be used?

Addressing the desired target group
Awareness of your target consumer is no different than for any other public building. But the design may appeal to a certain group more than others. Modern or traditional? Show the visitor what he can expect, or will it remain a surprise, hidden behind a shining façade?

People are not only destiny shoppers, heading straight for a single store. Some of them are just looking for a day out; the shopping mall in lieu of the amusement park. Larger shopping malls often integrate services from other sectors, such as cinemas, performance spaces, metro stations, etc.

What retailers will be in line of sight, which ones can you hide away? Seduction and surprise begins with interesting routing. It must be varied, stimulating, but also provide easy shopping. A boring layout does not create return customers, while an exciting view is the key success.

Plenty to think about and play around with. It is important that a retail architect is involved in the early stages of developing larger buildings, hypermarkets and shopping malls. The success of the design can be determined at this stage, success that will ultimately be reflected by the turnover figures.

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