Will We Grow Nostalgic for Strip Malls?

Yesterday I came across this article  about a competition at the University of Alberta called “Strip-Appeal” in which architects and other designers submitted proposals for re-purposing abandoned strip malls.   As big box stores and online retailers like Amazon claim more and more business, strip malls have started going empty.

Photo credit: Sten Odenwald

I had a look at some of the submitted designs and I couldn’t help but feel a little weary.  Design proposals included:

1. several variations of a park/greenspace/community garden (Yaaaaawn.)

2. turning the strip mall into a mixed-use town-center-y kinda thing with underground parking.  (zzzzzzzzz.)

3. a plan where people could just come in and use the building materials from the old strip mall to build whatever they wanted because there would be no zoning regulations for the new space.  (Sounds like anarchy but at least it’s different.)

4. a gathering place for mobile “pop-up” retailers.  (In other words, one week a space would be occupied by Dahn Yoga, the next by Haagen Daaz?  Is this feasible?) Continue reading