Design -- General
Shopping in streets vs. in malls

I am trying to analyse and compare the differences/similarities between shopping experiences in malls and on commercial streets.

Streets of shops have been urban spaces - spaces for interaction and communication.

The process of shopping has evolved from street shops to malls.

I would like help in understanding this process of change from traditional shopping streets, (example: around temples, where they were as much a part of the cultural fabric as they were of the economic fabric) and malls.

How did the streetscape and the architectural characteristics affect the shopping experience?

Was the process of shopping one which fostered social interaction? Does the same hold true for malls?

I would be glad to hear your ideas, opinions and views...

Thank you.
Pragnya Ganeshan
Shopping in streets vs. in malls
The world of bazaars does truly have so much within it. In most of Indian towns and cities, the nucleus was the vegetable and fruit bazaar. Soon, streets around this bazaar began to sell clothes, stationery, steel utensils, groceries, and so on.

The bazaar illustrated here is the temple bazaar around a tank near Kapaleeshwara temple in Mylapore, Chennai. A temple bazaar probably grew as a result of it being a place every family went to regularly. It was easier to buy vegetables as you returned home from the temple.

When we compare the traditional bazaar to the mall, one finds that there are bazaars of so many kinds. There is the vegetable bazaar (which was sometimes a market building housed in a British colonial building); the street bazaar in one's residential neighbourhood; a temple bazaar in the heart of the old city area (which sold sometimes vegetables and often, as in Mylapore, musical instruments, flowers, incense, clay and brass lamps and so on); the wholesale grain market and many more.

I think one of the primary differences between a traditional bazaar and a mall is that in a bazaar, people who come for neither buying or selling often also contribute to the dynamics of the marketplace.

This is not for them a destination in itself but a path to someplace else. Sometimes, because the labyrinth of streets, is an organically developed bazaar, there is no one management. The secondary needs of the vendors and the buyers generate another set of enterprises.

For example, there is the basket weaver who provides the containers for the onions, or the mobile tea-stall that caters to the small vendors.

People enjoy coming to the traditional bazaar because it allows you to bargain, the displays are done differently every day and you can watch people and at the same time know that no one cares what you goes on!
Kiran Keswani
Shopping in streets vs. in malls
In a country like India, malls have been a recent transition from bazaars, especially in places where urban development took place.

I believe you can compare these two places, satisfying the same function, by just knowing the types of people who come to them.

Shopping in bazaars is very much in its local context, whereas a mall has reached a much higher level catering to its commercial needs. A commercial street offers you flexibility, changing on a daily basis, whereas a mall tends to follow the same pattern all the year round.
Shweta Shende
Shopping in streets vs. in malls
Thank you all for your response :) and wish you a happy New Year..... :)

I agree that malls haven't "evolved". What I am interested in is if there is a special reason why they have captured the imagination. In my city, Chennai alone, at the present date there are 14 malls in construction. What could be the specific socio-cultural and economic factors resulting in their success? Would they drive the traditional bazaars and shopping streets to extinction?

Also, while these bazaars usually exist along "paths to someplace else", could they also become destinations in themselves? Places to watch humanity go by... to touch, to feel, to bargain?

Please do put forth your views.
Pragnya Ganeshan
Shopping in streets vs. in malls

To your question if the malls' construction can drive the street bazaars to extinction, I would say no.

Take for example the streets in the Parrys' Corner, Chennai, next to the beach..can you ever imagine Chennai without them?

The construction of these streets happened to satisfy the needs of locals, then giving no thoughts to facts like future economy and advancement in technology. Places as these give very little scope for any kind of expansion that presently exists there...every city in India has this old and new distinction. Take Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad...

So these spaces have their special place in the Indian scenario which can't be ignored..

It's up to us to develop this concept to its potential..for instance, an interesting street pattern outside the presently existing Egmore Museum could actually liven the whole space up!!
Sumedha Jain
Shopping in streets vs. in malls

That's actually an interesting point. But while it definitely would liven the place up, I think it would detract from the air of quiet and repose that currently hangs around the place.

But, in the context of planning, take Ranganathan street specifically and T. Nagar in general, it was a planned residential settlement. Today, it's the foremost commercial centre of Chennai, yetthe street still falls under the head of primary residential.

So, could it be stated that the planners are at fault for not anticipating this kind of alteration in land use?
What can we do as designers to discourage such alteration in land use? Should it be discouraged? What do we do to enable the transition, if we support it? Primarily, how can it be anticipated?
Pragnya Ganeshan
Shopping in streets vs. in malls

I feel the springing up of markets of these kinds can at no point be isolated from residential areas...these are generally comprised of people whose earnings are more daily based, not commercialised and long term as in the malls and retailing sector. For me this kind of growth would fall in between residential and commercial.

These small shops depend upon the population around, irrespective of the land use.

So probably an efficient distribution and mixing of land uses, at the design stage itself, could help. Residential areas require privacy, so they could be designed with an inward character with all such facilities on the periphery.

I wouldn't say that designers have been at fault. It's probably difficult to expand an old city to suit the growing requirements. In fact, haven't planned cities like Chandigarh, etc., worked? This city has succeeded in combining the modern concepts of shopping, the ambience of the old bazzars and the privacy of the residential sectors.
Hasn't the recently new city of Blore also been able to manage the problem to some extent too?
Sumedha Jain


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