The Mall as Monastary

The Mall as Monastary October 15, 2011
A recent news report touched on upcoming designs of new shopping centers. According to some architects, people will be able to do more than just shop in the mall of the future. In order to lure customers back into the shops, malls may also increasingly become redesigned into hubs for dining, exercising and even living, with some suggestions that apartments could be integrated into the overall Mall design. The shopping mall, in other words, becomes a world unto itself.
It is interesting how the mall of the future is starting to take the form of the monastery of many contemplative orders like the Carthusians, where the monastery is treated like a world unto itself, with the monks or nuns rarely, if ever, go beyond the monastery walls. At the same time however, such an enclosure is often coupled with an openness to the world outside, as characterised by the ministry of hospitality that is exercised by many in the Benedictine family.
Understood this way, the modern Mall could be regarded as an inversion of the logic of the Monastery. While modernity is often hailed as a celebration of openness to the world, we see more of the world becoming incorporated into a hermetically sealed architectural bubble, to the point where contact with the outside world is rendered unnecessary or even discouraged, in order to continuously fuel the processes of consumption.

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  • Steven Millhauser has some chilling dystopian short stories about malls like this.

  • vgb

    Well, the logic of incorporation in this instance excludes the logic of inclusion. Whatever seals they may have made will soon result to implosion that could have been otherwise opened. Any attempt at compressing something will soon decompress sometime. Vents.