The best shopping centres are designed with community in mind. Increasingly, designers responsible for large public projects are thinking about how their spaces can inspire connections between people, whether through recreational spaces, gardens or something else entirely. Earlier this year, we reported on the major revamp of Eastland. It features a new library and an edible garden, which are operated in partnership with the local council. Artworks by David Bromley feature throughout the centre including his largest mural project to date, which spans over 1,600 square metres.

Environmentally conscious innovator Joost Baker is working with Eastland to create an art installation that celebrates the soil of the region. Herbs, strawberries and grapes are planted in recycled oil drums that line the space between the shopping centre and the road, encouraging people to interact with the shopping centre differently. We explore a handful of overseas shopping centres that are also at the forefront of this trend.

Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Spanning a staggering 255,000 square metres, with 630 retail outlets and 100 food outlets, this mall is one of the largest in the world. On the second floor you’ll find a community theatre and arts centre staging regular shows, as well as a number of rehearsal spaces, art galleries, a music school and a library. Oh, and there’s an indoor ski resort, with a 22,500-square-metre ski area and an 85-metre indoor “mountain”. It’s the world’s largest indoor snow park, because where else would it be but Dubai.

Eataly, New York, United States
The mall that does exactly what it says on the packet, this NYC space is more than 4600 square metres. It combines a grocery megastore with a European-style open market, high-end food court and cooking school. The market is modeled on small towns across Italy where you have your trusted butcher, fishmonger, baker, pizzaiolo, barista and gelataio. Eataly wants to replace the impersonal experience of supermarket buying with a bit of lively marketplace interaction, and does its best to foster relationships and education about the origins of our food. It’s no surprise that founder Oscar Farinetti regularly collaborates with the Slow Food organisation.

Morinomiya Q’s Mall, Osaka, Japan
Shopping malls aren’t an uncommon sight in Japan; a rooftop running track atop a shopping mall, is. At Morinomiya Q’s Mall in Osaka the public has free access to a 300-metre track and two small soccer fields on the roof. The mall holds true to the legacy of its original site – it was a former baseball stadium – and combines the outdoor sports facilities with fitness and climbing gyms. In a country with precious little ground space for large recreational facilities, it makes sense to build skyward.

The Headquarters, San Diego, United States
This former San Diego police HQ turned shopping mall lives and breathes the west-coast lifestyle, with palm-tree-lined spaces and the San Diego bay foreshore on its doorstep. Among the historic architecture are shops, eateries and a large open-air courtyard. When not filled with lingering shoppers soaking up the Californian sun, it’s converted into a communal space for free yoga classes.

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Canal City, Fukuoka, Japan
Canal City is a multi-story, multi-purpose shopping mall with an entertainment destination to suit nearly every taste. Inside are shops, eateries, a theatre, cinemas, two hotels and a “ramen stadium”. It’s a mini-city in its own right. The mall was designed with the purpose of making a “city theatre”, which allows shoppers to observe and enjoy the buildings and serenity of the canal running through. Shopping centres aren’t usually thought of as peaceful places, but the mall’s turquoise canals and daily water shows provide a surprising sense of calm.

This article is presented by Eastland.