USB Urban Shopping Mall

International Competition / 1°Prize
Project Team
Santi Musmeci
Sebastiano Maccarrone
Andrea Ardizzi
Alessandra Sebastiani

Description read more USB is not a mere shopping building. Behind it there is an entire concept of upgrading the entire urban fabric, restoring the connection between the population and the city. Re-connect fuses all the conventional functions of a normal shopping mall into an unconventional hybrid: it itself becomes the INFRASTRUCTURE reconnecting the city and becoming a shopping plaza where the main characters are the users and their activities.

SHOPPING HISTORY/PUBBLIC SPACE AND MARKETPLACE. Through history the idea of SHOPPING has seen several changes. From the ancient form of the Roman market, where the architectural complex faced the plaza for events and activities of any kind, to the linear form of the street shops of the medieval times, afterwards covered with arcades.

FROM CATALOGUES TO E-COMMERCE-THE BEGINNING By the late 1800s more than half of the American population lived in rural areas and traveling to markets located in city centers posed a challange. Retailers found a new way to bring their goods to customers in rural and urban areas alike. Enter the mail-order catalog.

FROM CATALOGUES TO E-COMMERCE-THE EVOLUTION With the invention of the Internet, a company’s website became the more usual way to order merchandise for delivery by mail, although the term “mail order” is not always used to describe the ordering of goods over the Internet. It is more usual to refer to this as e-commerce or online shopping. But the only real difference between online shopping and traditional mail ordering is the means by which the order is placed. Most traditional mail order companies now also sell over the Internet.

VIRTUAL HAPPINESS Shopping malls are the real postmodern sites if happy consciousness. Not in the old sense of a reconciled diabetic of reason, but happy consciousness, now in the sense of the virtual self. A whole seductive moment, therefore, between a willed abandonment of life and a restless search for satisfaction in the seduction of holograms. Or, is it that the self now is a virtual object to such a degree of intensity and accumulation that the fascination of the shopping mall is in the way of homecoming to a self that has been lost, but now happily discovered. The postmodern self as one more object in the simulacra of objects. Shopping malls, therefore sites of possessive individualism par excellence.

LOSS OF INDIVIDUALITY In our society we live a loss of individuality as the usual private routines are standardised. Eating en masse, required uniforms and surveillance and scheduled bedtimes, etc deny the a priori personal identity, and indicate loss of freedom and degradation of integrity. The high tech mall, the unique site and symbol of consumer society, is the site where desire is appropriated to seek gratification by the artificial mass produced codes, goods, and images which self presentations utilise to articulate pseudo-individuated forms of alienated selfhood.

PUBLIC SPACES AND INTERACTIONS In the 21st century the places we shop have lost the idea of mixing PUBLIC INTERACTIONS, DESIRE AND COMMERCE which were the foundations of the past. In the reality of the contemporary city, where there is the pauperization of public spaces and green islands, the shopping mall must find its original qualities of meeting place and take back its role of one of the key space of urban planning.But in a densely populated contemporary city, where is the possibility to design a PUBLIC MEETING SPACE?

CREATIVE SHOPPING JOURNEY By definition, the traditional shopping mall is a building complex designed to host commercial activities, cinemas, and restaurants which occupied more than 3⁄4 of its surface. The main actor is the SHOP with all of its functions of display, fitting rooms, cashiers and storage. These are considered by many as NON-PLACES, having no outstanding characteristics, no identity, no relationships and no history. This has happened because in today’s traditional shopping malls the 1⁄4 of its surface designed for the public space and interaction is actually occupied by connections and services. In our vision of the future, the shopping mall must try to give back its identity to the “shopping mechanism”. Through the combined use of existing technologies (including 3D smart mirrors, beat-coins, automated storage, e-commerce) people and their activities will begin to become the main actors of the shopping mall once again. In the world we live in today, where actions such as buying and selling are easily done online (thus minimizing the importance of physical space), the shopping mall becomes a place where people go to simply finalize their purchases. It is then the place where the buyer has the possibility to choose, try and purchase the product using much less surface area than before. The remaining space, then, can be returned to the users. The activities set within it aim to give back the structure’s identity, moving from being a shopping mall to become a SHOPPING PLAZA, a space that promote communal identity by providing both individual experience and atmosphere.