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Bringing life Back to a Mall by Removing Dead Space


Optimum use of mall space is a prerequisite.  It becomes even more essential these days when the real estate market and the economy is down in general.  To get maximum return on their property investment, developers want to use each and every square inch of space in the most efficient and effective manner.

Dead spaces in a mall decrease overall efficiency and impact investment effectiveness.  Dead spaces are spaces, which do not generate revenue or attract enough traffic. They are caused either by bad design or by renovation done without keeping the original design intent in perspective.

How do we identify dead spaces and how do we remove them? How can this increase mall effectiveness?

Identifying of Dead Spaces

Its an off repeated management saying that what cannot be measured cannot be improved. So it becomes essential to measure dead spaces and assess their impact on mall effectiveness.

The most crucial tools in identifying dead spaces is the mall layout plan and the areas calculation sheet.  The latter is usually available with the developers’ marketing / sales team.

Crucial things to note and look for:

  • Ratio of sellable area to common area
  • Ratio of anchor area to smaller stores
  • Ratio of overall sellable area to the covered area of the mall.
  • Shop Entrances
  • Passage ways to toilets
  • Exit and exit corridors
  • Cinema exits
  • Service zones
  • Spaces utilization under escalators, lifts
  • Vertical and horizontal circulation routes
  • Accesses to parking / basement areas
  • Etc.

The numbers tell a story and by the end of the above and after taking a deep look into the aforementioned areas, a pattern emerges that helps us to identify areas / floors / zones which can be termed as dead spaces.

Remodeling Dead Spaces

Removing dead spaces can either involve improving circulation by programming or by renovating the space to make it more attractive in terms of aesthetics or functionality.

Reprogramming a Dead Space

Reprogramming a dead space essentially means improving circulation space around the dead space to improve its overall usability and in turn efficiency.

Corridors in a mall should not lead to any dead ends. Which means that they should ideally form loops with shops arranged around them. This is termed as a classic racetrack design for mall circulation.  Dead spaces usually happen when the loop breaks or is incomplete.

Ideal way to treat such dead spaces is to look at the shops around the space and either to combine smaller shops into bigger or by dissecting larger chunks into smaller. This is largely dependent on the ratio of anchor to smaller shops.  Aim is to complete the loop and remove the dead end.

Further flexibility is provided to the developer if the reprogramming is seasonal and adaptable.

Renovation of a Dead Space

The second for removing a dead space is to renovate it. Which means highlighting the space by perhaps increasing the lighting, color and overall look and feel.

The aim here is to renovate the dead space and make it into destination.
To achieve this we could add specialty kiosks, gaming counter, kids play area, interactive zones, food counters, service booths, learning zones etc. – anything that makes people go there and use the space and put revenue back into the mall.

Case Studies:

Other ways in which dead spaces have been successfully converted are: places of worship, resting zones, opening them up to the open air etc. etc. .

The basic premise is that we need to improve walkability through and to the dead space.

In Summary:

Removing dead spaces is essential to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of a mall’s layout and circulation. Though nothing beats a well designed mall with proper circulation, we have shared basic concepts that remove dead spaces and in a way bring back life to the value and longetivity of the mall.