The English Mall by Miriam Alonso Barrio

“The project reformulates the concept of mall, based on an understanding of it as a kind of landscape. A landscape that has clear compositional rules, seeking a targeted routes, spaces of surprise, chasing catch the visitor. Then two natures are faced to each other, the garden and the mall, and a third mixed space appears when they touch, the Burrow.”

Architects: Miriam Alonso Barrio
Status: Concept

Facing the exercise of a shopping mall in Valdebebas (an outskirt neighbourhood in Madrid)  many questions are raised: do we really want to do another mall?, can be transformed the mall typology with other design criteria? So Valdebebas is taken as a found landscape and we assume as a positive quality that the housing slowdown has left Valdebebas as a kind of real state ruin, which can be transformed by a catalyst, in this case the Mall. So the mall is not an agent of the periphery whose design can be taken as a standard without possible improvement; the mall is a public square capable of making life burst in Valdebebas again.

I chose the project by reflection established not only about the shopping mall model, but also about  the city model. Thinking that Valdebebas, as suburb, that can be transformed. The two main themes of reflection are not merely architectural themes, but touch behavior patterns and human settlement, besides being highly current.  Both are part of popular culture as well as topic of essays of Anthropolog scholars.

You could say that “shopping” is what remains of public activity. Through some increasingly predatory forms, the shopping has been able to colonize, and even replace almost all aspects of urban life. Airports, museums, etc. have become shopping malls to be profitable and survive. The architects despise the world of commerce but use the settings imposed by shopping for projecting museums, stations,  plazas…Shopping architecture is seriously discredited. It is reduced to a basic diagram, simple, banal and relentless. The interest of the project is to reflect on the mall, with all its contradictions and potential. Give a new game to a field not very explored in the schools of architecture but of great importance in contemporary culture. LET’S GO SHOPPING!

Miriam Alonso Barrio

Miriam Alonso Barrio is an architect from Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid (ETSAM) since 2016. She also studied in Aarhus School of Architecture (Denmark). She has worked for several architectural firms as Arenas Basabe Palacios, Delapuerta y Asensio and SIC-VIC (Vivero de Iniciativas Ciudadanas), developing architectural and urban planning projects via social perspective.

In 2018, along with Patricia Ramos and Paula Mena, Miriam won the design competition for the pavillion of Concéntrico 04 with Amanita Muscaria. The pavillion was built in may 2018 in Logroño (Spain) and widely published.

The English Mall// The Comercial Garden was her master thesis project, and has been adknowledged as YTAA finalist (Young Talent  Architecture Award 2016) organized by the Fundació Mies van der Rohe. It was also displayed in the Spanish Pavillion in the Architecture Bienal of Venezia 2018.

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