Architecture as a whole comprises several Building Typologies. Several factors essentially govern these typologies are development such as culture, economy, cause and need. In between these typologies during human evolution, we are introduced to typologies such as Commercial and Retail. These serve as places for human interactions and trade. A market from the earliest of civilization is the basis of it. It forms an unseen balance of amalgamation between the Functionality and Aesthetics of the space, which both go hand in hand.

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Khan el-Khalili Market of Cario_©B-Travel

The Emergence of this Typology

In 2000 BC, The development of the first commercial buildings took place with the fundamentals like a series of columns, walls and roofs as the building blocks. These were places set apart for a person or group of people to do business in the Roman era because there was no universal phrase for them. In the 20th century, along with technological advancements, the design language of these spaces changed. During the Industrial Revolution, companies hired a large workforce, which led to higher land prices and skyscrapers in the upcoming years.

Efficiency was the main objective of design that led to furniture like desks with drawers attached and also Taylorist offices. F.L. Wright is credited for these office layouts, where this trend continued for the next three decades. In the 1930s, adjustments were made to these areas to create a more aesthetically pleasing and welcoming environment. Achieved through the design of an iconic space with the S.C. Johnson Administrative Complex by FLW. The complex set an example for a new design approach based on the Taylorist office layout. The usage of space and the inviting gesture of natural elements such as Water and Light set it apart.

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SC Johnson Administrative Building_©realracine

The creative and business discipline of retail design combines several fields of knowledge to design and construct retail locations. Although it also involves aspects of industrial design, graphic design, ergonomics, and advertising, retail design is largely a specialized field of architecture and interior design. It all began with the 19th-century industrial revolution, which led to the emergence of chain stores. The concept of the chain stores originated in Belgium through clothing apparel for men and later to countries like the US and the UK continued up until the Second World War.

Shopping centres started to grow after the Second World War with different approaches by countries. In the 1960s, the appearance of independent boutiques through the breakthrough of shopping centres. The same continued to break off and grew worldwide until the rise of the internet and internet retailing in the latter part of the 20th century and into the 21st century saw another change in retail design to compensate. Many different irrelevant sectors of the internet reached out to retail design and its practices to lure online shoppers back to physical shops, where proper utilisation of retail design can be executed.

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Chadstone Shopping Centre_©CallisonRTKL + The Buchan Group

Design Elements

The whole design of the Commercial and Retail spaces are alike to each other. The main focus of design is the circulation for better mobility and efficient spaces to serve the user. The elements which are similar and also the most important for both of the spaces are

  • Building Envelope
  • Lightning
  • Mechanical Systems
  • Pieces of Equipment
  • Materiality

The building envelope is one of the keys to both building energy use and thermal comfort. Building envelopes in a modern building have four key elements that impact energy use. These elements are

  • Thermal performance
  • building orientation
  • permeability (air and moisture)
  • Daylighting.

On the other hand, Lightning has a dramatic impact on space. The right amount of it and its type can influence the whole feel of the overall space. It includes both natural Light and artificial produce.

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The House Of Dior Ginza_©Dior

One of the essential components of a successful business facility is comfort. A building’s thermal comfort can be just as appealing as its beauty. Modern building mechanical systems have two major purposes: to provide outdoor air to each space to ensure optimum ventilation and keep interiors within a set comfort range. The pieces of Equipment like the furniture, PCs and various other elements are also important factors to consider in the overall design of the space. In commercial settings, it offers improved efficiency, while in retail spaces, it is utilised for enhancing aesthetics.

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HD Hyundai Global R&D Center_©Kim YongKwan

The complete ambience of the whole space is provided through the material palette. The texture used in the designs gives the space an authentic feel. It is essential for future designs that prioritize circulation and efficient use of space. The building is also designed with a net-zero energy approach to minimize its impact on the environment. Certifications such as LEED-AP and IGBC are used to monitor the building’s lifecycle and ensure sustainability.

Sugamo Shinkin Bank / Shimura Branch_©Daisuke Shima

The Commercial and Retail Architecture has been on the rise from the start of it. It holds more significance in developing countries where there are more opportunities for the exploration of the design. The current growth was boosted by the industrial revolution and in the upcoming future it will continue to grow with human evolution. In today’s world, which is driven by monetary value there is no sign of it stopping its growth. The modern generation is constantly surrounded by something that is not often mentioned thus holding a special place in Architecture.


  1. B-Travel 2024. (2023). Khan el-Khalili, Cairo’s Grand Bazaar – Egypt. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Sep. 2023].
  2. Design Forum International. (2019). Evolution of Commercial Spaces. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Sep. 2023].
  3. Wikipedia. (2020). Retail design. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 Aug. 2023].
  4. (n.d.). Building Design, Commercial | [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 Aug. 2023].

Abhist is a unique individual who believes in “Living Life in the Moment” Apart from his passion for Architecture, he spent most of his time Ridiculously watching Anime and listening to EDM Music.