Outdoor Public Environment of Shopping Malls: A Balance between Consumption and Social Practice

By Na Xing and Kin Wai Michael Siu.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In recent years, an increasing number of property developers have constructed outdoor public space outside shopping malls. On the one hand, the developers and the shop owners claim that this kind of public space can provide a better facilitated social space for their customers. On the other hand, they also believe and aim that this kind of public space can attract the attention of the public, motivate them to come, and consequently increase the possibility of consumption. However, more studies and mass media reports have complained that most of the time this kind of so-called public space only serves as a tool to attract people as consumers, and has failed to encourage social activities that are not exclusively commercial. This paper first reviews the historical development of outdoor public space of shopping malls as well as other shopping constructions. While Hong Kong is famous as a shopping paradise with hundreds of shopping malls, the paper takes Hong Kong as a case for in-depth research. By using the research findings on the outdoor public space of a shopping mall in Hong Kong, this paper discusses the activities in the public outdoor space. While activities related to consumption are highly promoted and non-consumption related activities are strictly prohibited in the public space by the businessmen, people find their own ways to use the space for social purposes ― social activity ― as they like. By using these findings, the paper further argues for having a balanced consideration and flexible provision for a mixture of activities in order to obtain a win-win outcome in the use of public space.

Keywords: Outdoor Public Space, Shopping Mall, Consumption, Social Practice, Daily Activity

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp.23-38. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.805MB).

Na Xing

School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Na Xing is PhD Candidate of the School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Prof. Kin Wai Michael Siu

Professor & Lab Leader of Public Design Lab, School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hunghom, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Kin Wai Michael Siu is Professor and Lab Leader of the Public Design Lab, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. His research interests are in design, culture and society, public environment, and user-reception.