In recent decades, post-war buildings are being gradually abandoned due to their structural fragility, spatial insufficiency, and the advent of the digital era. Pandemic has escalated the process. This makes me ponder: Are malls still essential? What can a mall offer? How should we define a mall?
West 12 Shopping Centre has intrigued me by its mixed-use nature and the layers of history behind. However prosperous it was since the 70s, its glory was taken by the adjacent Westfield. Today, shops are hardly filled; the cinema is quiet at all times; while the residential towers are deteriorating. The three elements juxtapose but fail to draw a connection with one another.
Pathetic the situation might seem, the discovery of community remnants, e.g. charity shops, and the cultural history of White City, has informed me of its social value. The strong belief of counter-consumerism, such that it should never become another Westfield, orients the project towards supporting the existing community, nurturing local culture and creative businesses. Through adaptively reuse, a self-sustaining communal hub housing up-cycling workshops is envisioned.
The retrofit of the residential towers challenges the failing model of social housing, in a way to re-render it as a communal temple that celebrates togetherness. The overall complex would be reclaimed as an activator that engages the broader community – recreating and reinforcing the local identity of the neighbourhood.