Emporia shopping mall. Enchanting?

To find the right word

In Oct 25,  the Emporia shopping mall opened. Some 15 000 people were there. The Mayor of Malmö, Ilmar Reepalu, was there too. He made a speech. He said that the City of Malmö was very proud to have the finest experience centre i Sweden and that the shopping centre had an ”enchantingly beautiful architecture” . ( Sw.: Från Malmö stads sida är vi jättestolta över att hafått Sveriges finaste upplevelsecentrum. Det är en bedårande vacker arkitektur.)

I thought Emporia was a shopping centre. Anyway – I will not argue further about that. But enchantingly! The small building shown here is from the 18th century. It is quite accurate to call it enchanting I think.

But this. It is not enchanting. That is to give the word quite a new significance. I would rather use another word if one is to find just a single one. How about monolith?

A monolith could perhaps look like this. The building which is designed by architect Erick van Egeraat is actually called Monotlith. I think it looks pretty close to the size and design of Emporia. Usually the word monolith describes a big a solid stone. If you say something is monolithic it means according to Cambridge Advanced Reader: too large, too regular or without interesting differences and unwilling or unable to be changed.

It is very big and it is very hard to change.

Some years ago I attended a conference where the managing director of Steen & Ström was present. Steen &Ström is a subsidiary to Klepierre and APN. I happened to sit next to him during lunch and I asked him of his view of the flexibility of a building like Emporie.

– No problems he declared. All interior walls are easy to change to encompass store of different sizes.

– But if you cannot use the building for retail at all, I asked?

– He just looked at me without answering.

The word monolith implicates one of the major obstacles of running a shopping centre. It is almost impossible to use the building for something else if you need to. And you will. As I have mention many times the enclosed mall as a type of building is obsolete and will face the same future as the dinosaurs.

From industrial city to consumer city

The mayor Ilmar Reepalu is an architect by profession even though it is a long time since he practised as such. Before he became a full time politician he worked in the planning department of Malmö City. His personal preferences when it comes to architecture is unknown to me. But he has made a statement some years ago about a development strategy which means to rewrite the history of a place. The statement was (in my translation):

Barcelona, Glasgow, Bilbao and Graz are examples of cities which have been transformed from derelict industrial sites to modern examples, with a new identity and a new self-esteem. Much of this change depends on a new and self assured design incorporated in the cities. Malmö is now doing the same journey, to something other than what has been: The old landmarks from the industrial era – The crane of the shipyard, the chocolate factory just to name a few – exist no more and instead we have built the vision of a new Malmö with a new identity.

If Emporia is to be the proof of the pudding it is not  worth eating it.



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