3rd Avenue in Limoilou, Canada

The shopping mall is dead, long live the shopping avenue! That is what an article from January 13th, written by Marie-Ève Fournier for the Montreal newspaper La Presse, seemed to declare.

We already know that far from being strictly utilitarian spaces, shopping malls are also destinations for enjoying yourself. Young parents can walk around with a stroller away from bad weather, and older people can sit down and observe the surroundings for a few hours. Consumers therefore consume space as much as they consume the products they are looking for. In Quebec City, the model of the Saint-Roch Mall has become an influential example due to the fact that after being transformed into an indoor mall, it was dismantled in favor of a more traditional street where shopping can coexist with other activities.

According to the successful shopping mall owner Rick J. Caruso, “Within the next 10-15 years, the traditional indoor shopping mall will be a memory – a historical anachronism that no longer meets the needs of consumers or retailers,” nor those of cities. That is unless it manages to completely reinvent itself from now on. According to this manager of the world’s most profitable shopping centers, the decline of the traditional mall is surprisingly not only caused by the increase of purchases made on the internet. Rather, it is also due to consumers’ need for socializing and a sense of community.

The Quartier DIX30 Shopping Center in Montreal, Canada

“In his most open centers, the entrepreneur reproduced the atmosphere of important shopping streets, installed fountains, developed public spaces, and invested in architecture. There is even a tramway there,” noted Fournier in her recent article.

This therefore means that despite failing contribute to the creation of pedestrian-oriented cities in the US during recent years, the developers behind shopping malls are now imitating ancient and traditional cities, which are oriented around local services. The Quartier DIX30 on the South Shore of Montreal is a perfect example of this kind of “false” city where there are attempts to recreate a “false square,” and false public places in order to attract a younger, more urban clientele, while still allowing people to use their cars!

It is therefore not difficult to make a connection with Limoilou’s 3rd Avenue, which corresponds perfectly with these criteria. With its spirit of community, fully-grown trees, welcoming sidewalks and fronts, it radiates a sense of authenticity that no shopping mall could manage to reproduce.

The shopping center is dead, long live the shopping avenue!

Aside from shopping malls, which other spaces could benefit from designs and concepts centered around social interaction?

Original article, originally published in French, here.

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.