Apparently, the idea of a green shopping mall isn’t an utter absurdity. Sparch Architects has just finished designing a million-square-foot shopping mall for Kuala Lampur, and their vision is maximally green, and maximally livable. The building is to be an anchor for an urban revival.
Conceived of as a massive hybrid space, that’s part public park, part shopping mall, and part urban promenade, the central space would be a partially uncovered atrium. To understand what’s clever about this design, you’ve got to back up and understand why your average city slicker has a problem with most malls.
First, they’re sealed off from surrounding neighborhoods, making foot traffic and leisure use an afterthought In other words, the ‘public’ space inside isn’t public at all. In most urban planning, that’s a massive problem, because it doesn’t allow for new buildings to build up a working, social fabric in a city—making for the desolate downtowns common throughout the US.
Second, the energy costs are often insane, because a mall is generally a cavernous, fully air-conditioned space. The designers in this project estimate that energy use will be cut by 30%, thanks to the outdoor spaces and the improved shading from green cover. Check out the pictures: