Destined to be together forever
Natural Stone and shopping centres. If there is something a shopping center in New York and one in Madrid have in common is that in both parts of the world there is plenty of natural stone used in its construction.
The versatility of natural stone gives these spaces the power to adapt to the needs of each sociocultural context. Some of the most important fashion, jewelry, beauty and tech stores fit within these malls for this reason, sharing the exclusive touch provided by natural stone.
This versatility can be customized almost individually for each space, depending on the type of design chosen by the studios in charge of building or renovating the shopping centre.
The buildings display either geometric compositions with strong Mediterranean roots, or contemporary and neoclassical designs, all in natural stone. These compositions give texture and ambiance to every space.
The purpose: to create a welcoming environment, that invites to walk, get lost and enjoy the different experiences offered by the shopping center.
Let’s see some examples of how marble and natural stone can democratize shopping centres in different parts of the world, while integrating luxury, architecture and design.
Mall Of The Emirates shopping centre
Considered a ‘shopping resort’ rather than a shopping centre, this huge building is one of the jewels of Dubai, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Jewel in every way: its interior is an explosion of light and color, from the floor and natural stone cladding, to the vaulted glass ceiling.
It is this sort of composition that gives the space a natural touch. The light comes through the glazed ceilings, and flows along each section. Lighting designers chose LED luminaries that are automated in their intensity: when natural light decreases, they automatically brighten up long stretches and pedestrian paths, up to the highest ceilings. This type of lighting helps enhance the multicolored stone floors.
The Mall Of The Emirates was built in the year 2005. Its owner and main developer, Majid Al Futtaim, is a businessman from the Emirates, owner of the group of the same name.
The project, developed by Majid Al Futtaim and Jeque Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and conducted by F + A Architects from Pasadena in California (USA), required a rigorous design process and extensive research on elements of European and Arabic design, addressing diverse, interesting aspects of architecture in the process.
Structural components, such as metal, glass and natural stone, were purchased in different parts of the world.
The intense heat and humidity of the Gulf require extremely meticulous environmental strategies and technologies.
The halls are filled with inviting, luxury shops. It houses a whopping six hundred stores, oriented to the sale of luxury accessories, electronic devices, jewelry, cosmetics and, above all, fashion. Up to eighty establishments belong to the same circle of ‘maisons’ that show their collections in New York or Paris.
The space doesn’t lack in restaurant options either, with over a hundred restaurants and cafes.
What is shocking about this splendid shopping centre, though, are its leisure options. In addition to fourteen movie theaters and a micro-amusement park, behind an immense vertical glass wall, the Mall Of The Emirates hides the first and only ski resort in the Middle East. An exclusive destination for those who want to enjoy snow in the middle of the desert.
A large part of the building is also dedicated to artistic training and artistic expression, including a theatre with 543 seats, and 18 different spaces dedicated to art studios, workshops and classes.
The Mall Of The Emirates is a worldwide reference, both in interior design and in number of sales per square meter. A visit to this mall goes far beyond shopping: its power of attraction is such that there are direct shuttles from various hotels in Dubai. However, since 2008 the installations include two luxury hotels: a Kempinski, Europe’s oldest hotel chain, and the Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates.
This shopping centre is obviously one of the best in the world, and yet, the use of marble and natural stone is common ground with other similar buildings, reinforcing this ideal of luxury and distinction.
LOCATION: Dubai, EAU
ARCHITECTS: F + A Architects
LIGHTNING: Francis Krahe & Associates
Parque Nascente shopping centre
Closer to Spain than the United Arab Emirates, the Parque Nascente shopping centre in Porto is one of the most popular shopping destinations in Portugal.
Located on Rio Tinto Avenue, the extensive use of natural stone cladding appears in both, architecture and design, across marble floors and columns in Crema Siena, Ámbar and Rojo Alicante.
This shopping centre was opened in 2003, and has no less than six levels, including three main floors with 152 stores, over forty restaurants and twelve movie theaters. In addition to the use of natural stone, Parque Nascente has another aspect in common with other leading shopping centres: it is home to art galleries and spaces for artistic expression.
Parque Nascente stands out because of its interiors, particularly the polished marble cladding.
The geometric figures on the floor alternate Crema Siena and Ámbar marble, creating a deep contrast between intense ocher tones and creamy tones, both on the main floor as well as in the galleries. All this is framed with a curb of Rojo Alicante, that defines the space and separates the colors.
The columns that support these galleries show in some cases marbled bases, both in Crema Siena and Ámbar, finished with a creamy, vintage-looking polished moulding. They alternate with twin brick pillars. This duality resonates with the essence of the Portuguese city, half rustic industrial and romantic, half cosmopolitan, with high-density tourist areas. The light that finishes off the space comes from chandeliers and wrought iron lanterns, working in parallel with the side railings.
The bathrooms, also in natural stone, are another iconic element in this space, extending the lining to the worktops in Ámbar marble. A luxurious display in the heart of Portugal.
LOCATION: Oporto (Portugal)
PROJECT DEVELOPMENT: FA Architects
Westfield Stratford City shopping centre
The Westfield Stratford City shopping centre was developed by the Westfield Group, an Australian shopping centre company, and designed by Frank Duffy and Jonathan Kendall of Fletcher Priest, and is one of the largest malls in Europe.
The master plan for the city of Stratford was jointly developed with Arup and West 8, who transformed abandoned land in an inaccessible and polluted area of East London into the glamorous venue of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Westfield Group has always been committed to improve the environmental performance of its shopping centres while minimizing their impact. One of the aspects of their environmental program at Westfield Stratford City starts with meeting a zero waste quota; the vast majority of waste is recycled and everything else is conveniently classified. This includes all waste from retailers who sell their products at the mall.
This huge area also uses energy-saving luminaries and other innovative technologies to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, including collecting rainwater in tanks and reutilize it in its bathrooms.
The space owns the ISO14001 accreditation, granted in 2013 in recognition of its effective environmental management system and commitment to continuous improvement.
However, the most striking feature of this environmental program is the use of large-scale Pavegen tiles that collect the kinetic energy of passersby.
Westfield Stratford City is adjacent to London’s Olympic Park, within the East Village (Stratford). The shopping center is part of a project that was developed accordingly, following the multifunctional architecture trend implemented in the city of Stratford. It is seen as a significant contribution to the local economy, with the creation of up to 10,000 permanent jobs, including more than 2,000 jobs among residents in the area.
LOCATION: London (United Kingdom)
OWNER: Westfield Corp
PROJECT DEVELOPMENT: Jonathan Kendall of Fletcher Priest
IMAGES COURTESY OF: Herry Lawford