The shopping mall has been a standard in the Philippines’ city centers since the United States introduced it as a more efficient way to buy and sell goods. Being a social society, our understanding of the humble shopping center quickly evolved into a place where we mingle. In the late 90s, it replaced community centers and parks as the go-to destination for leisure activities.
While the concept of going to the mall to socialize with your friends may seem unusual, if not a bit disconcerting due to its subtle implications, it seems that the shopping mall has become more than just a place to buy your groceries. Following international trends, shopping centers are rapidly evolving into community centers in their own right.
Shopping and Community
In the Philippines, shopping has always been a multi-dimensional experience. Since many of today’s malls were developed in areas where plazas or meeting areas once stood, it only follows that they become avenues for social interaction. Compared to malls abroad, most of the shopping centers in the Philippines are also built in densely populated areas with big potential for growth, instead of out in the suburbs.
This turned the ordinary shopping center, which has always been a venue for social interaction, into a true community center.
It isn’t out of place to see a mall in the Philippines that has its own movie house or large spaces where people can interact. The all-inclusive nature of these malls is influenced by the people’s need to do everything all at once. Filipinos are time-efficient people, after all; if they can get it done all in one place, then it’s a good place to be.
Greener Shopping Centers
Shopping centers and their integrated community hubs are still evolving, however. Despite being a tropical country, these malls are following the trend of wide paths and green spaces, with the primary interaction being done outside instead of inside.
The strip mall, in particular, is the most popular model of outdoor shopping center that the society is adapting to. Although there are some complaints about the heat and ventilation, it’s become a popular venue and carries a certain air of charm and refinement to it. The Square is a good example of a strip mall, boasting “overhangs, louvers and nearby canopies,” to name a few.
Green shopping centers were once considered a fad, but they’re now become the national standard. It seems that people’s desire for communal spaces where we can socialize has influenced the evolution of the shopping mall greatly, and this is a good thing.
Only the future can tell how open the shopping malls of tomorrow will become. One thing’s for sure: it will continue to serve as our primary community center – a multidimensional experience that’s more than just shopping.