Vancouver Mall Swings From “Park and Spend” To “Neighbourhood Hub”


According to Ray Oldenburg, an American urban sociologist, people have home and work, but need a third place to ‘hang out’.  This may have been the role of the library in days past then the local coffee shop or cyber café.  One of Vancouver’s most stylish shopping destinations, Oakridge Centre wants us to rethink all that.  They want to redesign the experience altogether.

“Life in the urban context is often described as lacking a sense of community; it’s not uncommon for people who live in cities to feel disconnected from the people who live right next door” say the project’s master planners, Henriquez Architects.  “City planners and citizens alike are recognizing that along with sustainable living, fostering community living is just as important to the social fabric of vibrant cities.”  Urban and space design has power to transform its visitors.   In his book, “Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design” Canadian journalist Charles Montgomery laments the lack of physical social connection in modern urban centres.

By 2025 Vancouver, Canada’s Oakridge Centre will be a ‘mixed-use neighbourhood hub’ or gathering place that offers ‘retail AND community’ amenities, a place where people will want to go for interaction not just Interac ® .   An amenity building with a seniors’ centre, and library  will be next to 9 acres of public open space. This expansive area will feature activity fields, urban agriculture, quiet gardens, a reflecting pool, sport courts, a running track, and more.  A new outdoor shopping street, High Street, will add a different type of retail experience: cafés and restaurants spilling out onto the street will enliven the community after the interior retail closes for the day.

But will anyone want to hang out there if not to shop?  Oldenburg thinks so.  He believes we long for sociability even from among strangers and that people of various ages, race, gender and cultural beliefs are looking for reasons to come together and just need the right setting to do so.


Use Space As A Design Element

When used well, each element of design reinforces the designer’s concept.  The element Space is an expanse to arrange objects in for beauty or function.  More than just walls and floors, space is also the 3D area or volume between them.  When designing, don’t just plan for use of the space at eye level and below; think of ways to use the layer over-head.  This frees up more physical space and visually heightens the room.  Lofts are an example of this.  However, it feels more natural to view things within our horizontal field of vision.

loft_living_city freshome

Take care not to fill every bit of a space.  When you have many elements you should leave some areas free to give relief.  ‘Positive space’ is filled by objects or elements in the design but ‘Negative space’ is the shapeless empty area left over.   We move through negative spaces to reach areas of interest.  Physical space is used to both separate and connect elements in design.  Wider spaces separate elements from each other and narrower spaces show how elements are related.  Groupings of art are an example of this.

Small spaces tend to feel comfortable, intimate and private but their occupants are more likely to feel confined and restricted.

There are visual cues that create appearance of greater space.

For example, grouping similar objects simulates greater space by reducing clutter and improving rhythm.  One can cut the number of furnishings and use small-scale furniture pieces without pattern.  While smooth, reflective surfaces supply a sense of space as do light colours with little contrast, dark walls and dimly lit interiors psychologically diminish space.

Large spaces can convey a sense of freedom but they also have negative emotional impacts.  They are impersonal.  Their users may feel uncomfortable, isolated and insecure.  The formality and generous ‘negative space’ associated with expansive rooms, like those in convention centres, discourage social interaction.   Creating sub-zones, seating groups and defined areas of interest help to segment the space into a more manageable size, at least to the casual observer.

When one understands the elements and principles of design and uses them the result is a beautiful and effective space.   How did you use space in your project?

Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sacha K. Chabros and Design Felt with specific direction to the original content.

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The Science Of Interior Design

via ELLE Decor Magazine

Elements And Principles

Interior Design is not a mysterious process of sweeping hand gestures and inflated speech; design pros follow clear rules.  They understand and observe the Elements and Principles of design with predictable results.  When used well each component reinforces the designer’s concept.  These Elements of colour, space, line, shape or form, texture and pattern,

“Interior Designers do more than pick accessories; they apply knowledge of Environmental Psychology.”

and these Principles of emphasis, balance, harmony or unity, rhythm, proportion and scale are skillfully used to manipulate how a space is perceived, one’s feelings about being in it and behaviour while there.  As example, in a public space conceived to encourage gathering and personal interaction, not only the type, pitch and height of seating but also the distances between seats and their angles are carefully chosen to stimulate desired behaviours.  Interior Designers do more than pick accessories; they apply knowledge of Environmental Psychology.

Read the next post to learn how professionals use the element of colour.      Happy IFI  #World Interiors Day! 

Excerpts and links of this post may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sacha K. Chabros and Design Felt with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.