Orchard Road: Mall space for more?

Posted on: 08 June, 2009 | Tagged as: ,

A Sunday Times report yesterday, Overgrown Orchard, looked at how three new shopping malls coming up in Orchard Road in the next few months was making it over-retailed. The report looked at Singapore’s shopping district purely from a retail and consumer point-of-view and suggested that the issue isn’t in terms of quantity but quality — a greater variety of retailers will enhance the shopping experience.

Perhaps another variety that would aid this district is more public places where people can come together, sit around without the pressures of being treated solely as a consumer. Such places that allow informal public life to gather or what Ray Oldenburg calls “great good places” help bring all sorts of people together as a community. This is unlike the malls where strategic leasing of retail space segregates consumers according to their purchasing power. The foyer in front of Takashimaya comes closest in my mind to being a “great good place”, but the lack of proper seating and shelter, plus the fact that an event usually happens there, deters it from becoming one.

The lack of a great good place in Orchard Road might explain why the MRT stations become convenient meeting points for the public. It is the only space in the district where people can sit around without feeling the pressure of having to spend. In my view, Orchard Road is overgrown with malls, and to enhance the experience and make it A Great Street, mall space should be opened up for more.