Building a Consumer-Civic Ecology through Condenser Subversion of the Affective Mall Syntax
This thesis seeks to envision a ‘Phy-gital’ consumer-civic ecology for Ion Orchard through the subversion of the mall syntax model, in view of the planned revitalisation for Orchard Road within changing trends of consumption. It seeks to build upon existing civic synergies of the site, providing a win-win investment strategy where physical infrastructure stays relevant in the age of digital commerce.
Theoretical studies investigate the urban condition of commodified estate and affective consumption, extrapolating trends within Singapore’s commercial district, Orchard Road. The research seeks to establish a human centric post-digital design discourse, investigating the fundamental logic of the Mall’s spatial syntax, its resulting mechanisms (Dovey, 1999; Crawford, 1992), and opportunities for subversion with its Social Condenser antithesis (Bokov, 2017; Murawski, 2017).
In the context of changing business dynamics due to digital commerce, knowledge exchange now drives the marketplace, with a large focus on value and convenience due to informational accessibility. Physical shops are becoming underused as a means of affective consumption; where enjoying of malls’ controlled indoor environment contributes to the inadvertent purchase of goods. A medium investment strategy is proposed to upgrade & optimize existing infrastructure. It seeks to initiate substantial transformation while building upon existing affective synergies of the mall.
To allow for knowledge exchange to revitalise the existing commercial model, the development of a consumer-civic ecology is proposed. The development of a civic program will revitalise commercial infrastructure as a phy-gital “Collaborative Economy”. Given the pre-existing arts program within Ion Orchard, a key mall within Singapore’s commercial district, the mall was therefore selected for the demonstration of a new consumer-civic ecology.
The commercial model is optimized through subverting existing affective synergies borne from syntax mechanisms, through adapted spatial principles of collective civic architecture from the Social Condenser. The civic addition seeks to involve a larger scope of patrons and tenants, ultimately allowing for vacancies throughout the mall to be filled up with civic-centric tenants.
The project stance on ensuring the continuity of commercial infrastructure is rooted within the heart of the mall, how affective syntax components can serve as a seed of growth for a consumer-civic ecology; thus serving the changing needs of its patrons in the post digital age, before malls can be connected internally, externally and to its urban surroundings.
Advancement in digital technologies and e-commerce substantially challenge the design and relevance of “conventional” physical shopping environments. With this in mind, and in response to recent plans to revamp Orchard Road, beyond retail, ‘(ION)ic Phy-Gital Collective’ proposes a prototypical approach to development of a viable consumer-civic ecology in order to optimise available resources through novel digital interface that would enable different ways of consumers’ engagement. Architectural interventions strategically subvert and disperse the key mall mechanisms – the anchors and the flow – with synergetic programmes resonating social condenser principles, including artistic creation and co-creation. Demonstrated at ION mall, thesis represents a powerful vision of bottom-up collaborative approach to public-private production-consumption sphere transformation in (post-)digital age.- Asst. Prof. Zdravko Trivic (Dr.)