- frei nach >Harvard Project on the City< S 124 ff.,in Mutations, ACTAR ,2001
Shopping is arguably the last remaining form of public activity. Through a battery of increasingly predatory forms, shopping has been able to colonize-even replacealmost every aspect of urban life. Historical town centers, suburbs, streets, and now train stations, museums, hospitals, schools, the internet, and even the military, are increasingly shaped by the mechanisms and spaces of shopping. Churches are mimicking shopping malls to attract followers. Airports have become wildly profitable by converting travelers into consumers. Museums are turning to shopping to survive.
The traditional European city once tried to resist shopping, but is now a vehicle for American-style consumerism. "High" architects disdain the world of retailing yet use shopping configurations to design museums and universities. Ailing cities are revitalized by being planned more like malls.
Shopping could not have mounted such an unrelenting transformation of the city without a series of key inventions that methodically prepared and modified the built environment to receive and induce consumer activity. Air conditioning freed new depths of interior space to shopping, wrapping the consumer with inescapably comfortable environments. The escalator gave the shopper a means to effortlessly traverse the rapidly expanding distances and heights of commercial environments. Even nature has been synthetically reinvented to survive within the increasing artificiality of the newly endless interior.
Shopping is expanding, now, by
learning more about us. Through a new wave of technological
inventions, shopping expands beyond replication and scale, by
infiltrating almost all areas of our lives, through devices such
as credit cards, smart cards, and tracking devices, which record
our lives in vivid informational detail. Unlike other mostly
static programs, the transformations of shopping are endless.
Constantly refashioned and repackaged, shopping will always find
other vehicles by which to expand, and ultimately outlive, all
other public activities. The following passages are extracts from
the Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping, a series of essays,
statistical analyses, and reflections that together portray the
people, techniques, ideologies, inventions, and spaces by which
shopping has so efficiently, yet desperately, refashioned the
city. Perhaps the end of the twentieth century will be remembered
as the point where the city could no longer be understood without
Shopping could not have become
as effortless as breathing without air conditioning. Only air
conditioning can make windowless, sealed, interiorized, and
artificial environments so natural and so comfortable. Along with
the escalator, mechanically engineered climates enabled an
explosion of the depth of the interior, creating spaces
increasingly divorced from the outside, increasingly inescapable,
and increasingly able to accommodate virtually any type and scale
of human activity, in almost any combination.
Shopping has historically preferred to do away with the outside, seeing nature as an unpredictable interference with the unfolding of commerce. Instead it created its own interior realms: the bazaar, the arcade, and finally the shopping mall all exist in a lineage of increasing control and increasing autonomy from exterior conditions. With the invention of air conditioning, natural light and air could finally be superceded and rendered obsolete, as "ideal" and completely artificial shopping conditions were enthusiastically adopted by the public.
By making interior spaces larger, more comfortable, more controlled, and more difficult to escape, and by combining in a single whole activities that used to be dispersed, air conditioning radically altered the way that time was spent in public. Shopping time was not only prolonged as department stores and shopping centers began their steady encroachment on public activity, but capitalized upon as a domain to be optimized and exploited: greater comfort + greater willingness to spend increasing amounts of time indoors = greater likelihood to spend. Increasing sales rather than providing comfort became the mantra for the air conditioning industry during the postwar period, to the point that mechanical cooling would be accepted as an inevitable necessity. Cold air became so fundamental in fact that temperature was to become one of the only constants in the spaces of shopping.
In order to "empirically" prove the benefits of the untapped consumer energy that air conditioning would liberate, Gruen creates a chart that lists the distance and time "which the average healthy human being is willing to walk, under varyi . ng environmental circumstances":
Along with air conditioning, no other invention has the importance or impact on shopping of the escalator. As opposed to the elevator. which is limited in terms of the numbers it can transport between different floors and which through its very mechanism insists on division, the escalator accommodates and combines any flow, efficienty creates smooth transitions between one level and another, and even blurs the distinction between separate levels and individual spaces. The escalator radically modifies architecture; it denies the relevance both compartments and floors. The success and rapid acceptance of escalator-which effectively enabled the department store at the beginning of the twentieth centuryis due to its effortless ability to transform virtual space into retail area. As an instrument of smoothness, the escalator effectively triggered a vast new domain of construction, which-through the very ease of connection-we now inhabit almost automatically and thoughtlessly, and without any sense its true scale or radical Paradoxically, the most radical architecture has been the most popular and the least noticed.
With the escalator, previously
disconnected realms could be smoothly connected into an
uninterrupted experience, allowing differerent and even
incompatible spaces to be taped on to each other almost ad
infinitum. As an efficient transitional device, the escalator
quickly generated coherence out of fragmentation, unifying greater
portions of the city, and giving the appearance of a vast
expansion in physical size of shopping areas.
Recently, the smoothing effects of the escalator have been complemented by the expansion of shopping into program. Not only are spaces becoming increasingly undifferentiated, so are activities. As schools and airports become shopping centers, malls become museums, downtowns become malls, the escalator remains a familiar, ubiquitous, and effective icon linking all activities and spaces in an easy and attractive manner. Not only has the escalator made new scales, territories, and spaces available to us; it has also delivered us-in a way few can resist-to the new forces that so profoundly shape our cities.
Nothing is more fundamental to the survival of shopping than a steady flow of customers and products. Because of the correlation between amount of traffic and sales volume, the problems of mobility and shopping have often been indistinguishable. By linking into existing infrastructures, such as pedestrian routes, road systems, or subway stations, or by mechanically inducing movement through devices such a,the escalator or the moving sidewalk, shopping has managed to profoundly influence the way movement through cities is experienced.
Shopping environment = artificial natur
At the end of the twentieth century, with shopping escalating to a scale, density, and pervasiveness that operates more effectively as landscape than architecture, shopping composes enticing environments where sound, scent, light, air, and even plants are all manipulated to extract the desired response from consumers. Nature now services the most artificial process, not only by becoming a mechanized manifestation of commercialism, but also by operating as one of its primary mediums to lure the consumer. Forcibly complicit in sponsoring commercial ecstasy, nature is now replascape, using the aura of the naturally familiar to disguise the mechanics of the synthetically composed.
As a shopping aid, replascape is used with other strategies that manipulate the environment for consumptive potency. Using the familiar to propagate sensory distraction, the shopper's critical judgment is impaired, his resistance to spending eroded. In this shopping landscape, nature-the ideological inverse of culture-has been commodified. A new nature now exists in a technologically modified, or denatured form. This new nature has been reconstructed to mimic original natureto replicate landscape-and can be understood as a technologically enhanced version of landscape. As replascape, it is a composite structure-part real, part syntheticcreated when organic material is technologically improved.
Shopping = ecology
Shopping is an ecology in its own right. Shopping is a complicated and interactive system, working in an organic relationship based upon the quasi-biological behaviors articulated among organisms and their shopping environments. If shopping is seen through an ecological lens, an incredible array of diversity, complexity, and flexibility in its structure and behavior becomes apparent. Shopping is a endless web of flows and exchanges of shoppers, retailers, goods, information, humanity, and money. Fluidity and flexibility, connectivity and continuity are crucial in this ecological web of shopping.
arcades- departmentstore - supermarket- mall -entertainment shop - virtual shopping
After centuries of developing its own typologies such as the marketplace, arcade, department store, and shopping mall, shopping has within the last two decades begun to expand into any program imaginable: airports, train stations, museums, military bases, casinos, theme parks, libraries, schools, universities, hospitals. Airports and malls look increasingly indistinguishable. The experience of the museum is becoming increasingly seamless with that of the department store. Even the city is being configured according to the mall, and becoming increasingly reminiscent of the experience of
suburban shopping. Will
shopping once and for all debunk the notion of institutional
autonomy? As much as we may deny or refuse it, shopping has become
one of the only means by which we experience public activity. It
in many cases determines, sustains, and often defines the identity
of an institution, or a city. It has created a diffuse smoothness
between previously distinct entities, and has become an
inescapable fact of public life. As a result, human activity is
becoming increasingly enveloped, permeated, and invaded by