August 27, 2015
in “De Witte Raaf” Editie 176 juli-augustus 2015.
September 12, 2015
Seamless Retail Design: The Store of the Future
Saturday, September 12—15:00
Kluisstraat 86 | Rue de l’Ermitage 86
1050 Brussels | Map
In this talk Katelijn will present the results of the summer school “Seamless retail design: integrating the spatial, experiential and digital”. The goal of this 10-day summer school was to let students from different disciplines (interior design, architecture, product design/industrial design, marketing) collectively reflect on the challenges and opportunities of the “store of the future”. The general set-up was to combine the state-of-the-art knowledge coming from both academics and experienced practitioners with the creativity of students. Three major themes were highlighted during the morning teaching sessions: retail design (spatial), sensory marketing (experiential), and online & digital developments. In the afternoon sessions, students actively engaged in a design workshop in multidisciplinary teams, supervised by experienced retail designers. Each day, the teachers of the morning sessions also assisted in supervising the afternoon sessions to ensure an optimal integration of the knowledge. The results will be presented within a theoretical framework of the evolution of retail – from the past, present end future.
teacher: Katelijn Quartier
September 12, 2015
Inspecting ‘The Gruen Effect’
Saturday, September 12—16:30
Kluisstraat 86 | Rue de l’Ermitage 86
1050 Brussels | Map
The Viennese architect Victor Gruen is considered the father of the shopping centre. His ideas about urban planning, both influential and abused, have (supposedly) led to cities that serve the new gods of consumption. This public school class will first screen the documentary ‘The Gruen Effect,’ produced by Anette Baldauf and Katharina Weingartner. By tracing Victor Gruen’s path from prewar Vienna to fifties America and back to Europe in 1968, this documentary explores the themes and translation errors that have come to define urban life. After the screening, a debate will be held to assess wether this negative interpretation of the shopping centre is a ubiquitous phenomenon or not. When Gruen’s shopping centre concept washed ashore in Western Europe, it encountered a peculiar socio-political climate; different to that of the United States. In the decades following the Second World War, and in part in response to the Cold War, governments across Western Europe had set out ambitious programmes for social welfare that aimed at improving the everyday lives of their citizens, thus facilitating the formation of a modern, socially responsible, culturally educated and politically responsive community. The construction of schools, cultural centres, sports facilities, holiday infrastructure, etc. was an important building block of this project. All these facilities provided spatial centrality, public focus and human density; characteristic that the shopping centre typology also possessed. We could therefore question if when Gruen’s commercial typology was first introduced to Western Europe, its underlying design principles were perhaps also consciously oriented towards eliciting a specific type of modern behaviour and building a modern community. Even from the United States suggestions have emerged that the shopping centre succeeded in creating such a reformative, community-oriented modern environment. In an article published in June 2014, the Guardian posited that ‘for mid-century Americans, these gleaming marketplaces provided an almost utopian alternative to the urban commercial district, an artificial downtown with less crime and fewer vermin … they were a place to see and be seen, something shoppers have craved since the days of the Greek agora .… it used to be where [the] young, middle-class[es] …, wearing their Sunday best, would come for weekend outings.’ Does the shopping centre thus merely serve ‘the new gods of consumption’, or is it a new figure of collectivity in the post-war urban realm?
teacher: Janina Gosseye
June 23, 2015
June 18, 2015
June 13, 2015
Mediating [Infra]Structures—Shopping Centers
Gideon Boie (moderator)
Saturday, June 13—15:00
Gulden-Vlieslaan | Avenue de la Toison d’Or 40-42
1050 Brussels | Map
David Smiley received his PhD from Princeton University and currently teaches at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (U.S.). A practicing architect and historian, Smiley has written extensively about architecture, housing and cities. In 2002 he edited Redressing the Mall: Sprawl and Public Space in Suburbia, a projective study for the re-use of ‘dead malls’ and recently authored the book Pedestrian Modern: Shopping and American Architecture, 1925—1956 (2013), which elucidates the significance of store and shopping center design to modernist architectural and urban tenets in the United States.
Jen Smit is currently a lecturer at the University of Tasmania, School of Architecture and Design. She is a founding partner of Mulloway Studio, an Adelaide based architectural practice specializing in interpretation projects and urban place-making. Smit previously worked with Daryl Jackson Architects in Melbourne and Sydney, Hassell Architects in Sydney as well as on community based projects in India. She has taught at Adelaide University, and UniSA. Smit writes and researches on public space and the value of terrain vague—neglected spaces within cities—and the opportunity that these spaces offer as a counterpoint to places of ordinary consumption and production within cities.
Jeroen Dirckx is associate and urban planner at KCAP Architects&Planners in Rotterdam. He has worked at AWG-b0b Van Reeth in Antwerp. Since 2005 he works at KCAP, building up broad experience in conceptualizing projects and leading multi-disciplinary teams in the field of urban planning. He worked on the NEO project in Brussels, the London Olympic Legacy masterplanning framework and the Stadium Park vision in Rotterdam. Currently he is involved in the competition for the Flemish radio and television broadcasting headquarters in Brussels, the Elbbruecken masterplanning competition in Hamburg and the strategic vision for the airport city at Sheremetyevo, Moscow.
Gideon Boie is a Brussels-based architecture theorist and co-founder of the research and activism firm BAVO that focuses on the political dimension of art, architecture, and urban planning. BAVO’s publications include Urban Politics Now: Re Imagining Democracy in the Neoliberal City which offers an in-depth analysis of the current repudiation of urban politics and Too Active to Act: Cultural Activism after the End of History, a critical analysis of cultural production and activism in The Netherlands. Boie teaches and conducts research in architecture criticism at the KU Leuven Faculty of Architecture campus Sint Lucas.
Espace Louise: The Cornerstone of an Incremental Shopping Centre in Downtown Brussels
In the early 1950s architect Emile Goffay was commissioned to design a multifunctional complex in the south-eastern corner of the Brussels Pentagon. The core of this complex was the Galerie Louise, an enclosed shopping street with about fifty shops, which was to provide access to a residential bloc of seventy apartments. During construction, the residential component of the complex was however abandoned in favour of office units. Between 1963 and 1964, Goffay’s complex was expanded when the architectural office of Jacques Cuisinier designed the Galerie de la Porte Louise which connected to the existing Galerie Louise and extended the covered pedestrian shopping street to the Avenue de la Toison d’Or. The final addition to the shopping complex was created in 1987, when the Espace Louise was built replacing the blocks Avenue de la Toison d’Or No. 40 to 42 and Rue Capitaine Crespel No. 7 to 21. Although the original uniformity of the Espace Louise gallery is interrupted by the continuing renovations of the retail spaces, the gallery has retained its basic structure, with duplex retail spaces clustered along the broad shafts that are staggered at each resting area or square.
June 15, 2015
Guerrilla Picnicking: are shopping centers malleable public spaces?
Monday, June 15—12:30
Meeting point in front of La Monnaie | De Munt
Place de la Monnaie | Muntplein
1000 Brussels | Map
The public status of shopping centers is contestable. On the one hand they are controlled (surveyed and monitored) spaces of consumption; simply ‘hanging-out’ in their interiors may be conditional on a subjectively assessed ability to purchase. On the other hand, the shopping center is synonymous with suburban life, where often these are convenient and available civic places for entertainment, social gatherings and cultural engagement.
Conducting a public picnic within these suburban interiors serves to test out the extent of public freedoms, and stake a claim for the right of citizens to occupy these ‘quasi’ public spaces in an unconventional manner.
Recalling nostalgic practices of a mid-19th century recreational pastime, the picnic provides a disarming method of laying claim to the ambiguous public territory of the shopping mall. The picnic blanket acts as a visual marker of the spatial boundary that is being claimed, for a time, by an apparently transgressive public.
Part public celebration and part public protest, the guerilla picnic serves to increase the options for belonging within a shopping center by a non-purchasing public, affirming the potential of these spaces to cater to a variety of publics. Guerilla picnicking provides a ‘momentary rupture’ to the more orthodox view that shopping centers only provide for relatively fixed, tightly regulated and commodified identities. 
Bring: A picnic blanket, a packed lunch and a sketch book.
teacher: Jen Smit
 Hou advocates for guerrilla urbanism as a means to test out the erosion of public space and public life in the city in staking a claim for the right to inhabit quasi-public spaces. Jeffrey Hou, Insurgent Public Space: Guerilla Urbanism and the Remaking of Contemporary Cities (London: Routledge, 2010).
October 1, 2015
Testing the Potential for Public-ness
Thursday, October 1—18:00
Chaussée de Mons | Bergense Steenweg 1432
1070 Anderlecht | Map
This psfa-bxl class is an experiment in testing the potential of meeting strangers in one of contemporary society’s iconic shopping centers, the Ikea commercial center. Few people have never set foot in an Ikea. Almost all of us have at some point tested furniture in one of the ubiquitous Ikea showrooms, have had coffee or a Swedish meatball dish in the Ikea cafeteria, or have been anxious to find the proper shelf in the Ikea Self Service Store. Ikea commercial centers are actually places where you can find a wide variety of people with different backgrounds and occupations and from different cultures. As such, they have the potential to be places “in which strangers are likely to meet”. But how likely is it that you will actually be interacting meaningfully with the ‘strangers’ that you share the store with? Can an Ikea be a place for significant human exchange and interaction? Or do their commonly criticized qualities of being privately owned and controlled, or lacking authenticity stand in the way of a meaningful encounter with ‘the other’?
please send an email (to firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want to participate, and we will send you the location for the meeting place for the class.
teacher: Jorg De Vriese
June 11, 2015
Conference—The Shopping Centre, 1943—2013: The Rise and Demise of a Ubiquitous Collective Architecture
11—12 June 2015
Delft University of Technology
This conference will offer a fine-grained, region-specific reading of the shopping centre. Reassessing this commercial typology’s key characteristics, it will investigate the shopping centre’s contribution to post-war built environments and architectural culture. The conference is subdivided into four sessions, each focused on a particular theme.
The first session, ‘Acculturating the Shopping Centre’ will investigate if ‘hybrids’ developed as the paradigmatic shopping centre concept, the American dumbbell mall, encountered different socio-cultural climates, and what region-specific typologies can be identified. It also questions if, as societies changed over time, the shopping centre concept also—in a true Darwinistic fashion—evolved over time. The second session, ‘Building Collectives and Communities’ focuses on the reformist underpinnings and socio-cultural ambitions of shopping centres. It questions the role of shopping centres as new figures of collectivity in the post-war urban realm. ‘From Node to Stitch’, the third conference session, conversely addresses the role that the shopping centre has played in urban planning from 1943 to today. It connects the shopping centre’s development to urban reconstruction and revitalisation efforts on the one hand and explores the role that this commercial typology assumed in (post-war) urban expansion and structured suburbanisation on the other. The final session, ‘The Afterlife of Post-war Shopping Centres’ seeks to set out strategies for the contemporary redevelopment of post-war shopping centres. By identifying ‘best practices’, speakers in this session will explore if for the increasing number of American (and European) ‘dead malls’ there can be new life after death?
For more information visit: www.shoppingcentreconference.com
“Three dominant narratives have shaped the history of the American shopping mall. The first depicts the mall as a building type based on a rigid and highly inflexible format, largely determined by real estate economies, marketing research, and architectural behaviorism. The outcome of this story is the generic suburban regional mall, reproduced from coast to coast. The second narrative portrays the mall as a fundamentally antiurban force, fostering the growth of what is commonly known as sprawl, defined as the antithesis of livable urban space and incapable of providing genuine urban experience. The third narrative sees the mall as a vehicle for a continuous process of commodification, through which a wide range of social and communal experiences and public spaces are swallowed up by commerce.
In order to broaden the picture of the mall, I would like to “deconstruct” these narratives—to question some of the assumptions on which they are based and to provide counter-examples that show that malls operate in ways distinctly different from the views offered by the usual narratives.
If we look at the history of suburban shopping malls, we find that these three views are not only misdirected but that they preclude a deeper understanding of how we might address the necessity of change. First, rather than acting as single, rigid forms, malls have been amazingly adaptable building types. They have continuously adjusted, reinvented, and retooled themselves in response to multiple economic and social changes; they take many forms and have flourished in a variety of settings. Second, malls have functioned not as agents of urban disorder but as agents of planning and order. This is especially the case in the amorphous suburbs that proliferated after World War II, where the mall provided a community focus and a centralizing element. As a result, many observers saw malls as a positive force in shaping suburban life. Finally, I want to suggest that in the long run, the processes that critics have seen as generating the malls’ debilitating social effects are more complex than they imagine. We need to see commerce and commodification not as inevitable, one-directional controlling processes but as a complex condition that can be partial, temporal, and even reversible, creating situations of decommodification.
In any study of shopping malls, the concept of “public space” also needs to be scrutinized. Public space should be viewed not as a single, unified physical and social entity but as a situation that can be experienced in multiple, partial, and even paradoxical ways. Thus, there is no single public space but as many different public spaces as there are different publics. All of this suggests that the complex process of malling can be directed in a variety of directions by changing any one or combination of such elements as public policy, regulation, financing, ownership, and management, as well as physical form and design.”
(from Suburban Life and Public Space by Margaret Crawford)