Dead End Malls
By Stav Salomon_Fifth year ,Tel Aviv University,Final Project
Both a surplus in areas of commerce and a major shift in consumerist patterns have led to a moment in which many downtown malls are left abandoned and are in need of new usages. Amongst them, is the old mall in Ramla, Israel which has already reached its final stage in life and is now on the verge of completely dying-out.
Ramla is a culturally mixed city that suffers not only from decades of neglection, but also from poor branding and an ever-expanding dysconnectivity between its citizens. The sheer misery that exists in this decaying city succeeds in blurring out the countless cultural and architectural treasures that are hidden throughout it and are yearning to be properly unveiled and developed.
The fading of this mall is a fascinating but heartbreaking tale. On the one hand, it embodies the gloominess that crept through the city’s center, but on the other, it creates a compelling opportunity to resuscitate it.
The project offers a renewed use of the mall’s existing infrastructure as a ‘trigger’ to revitalize the entire downtown area. On a macro-level, the decline of the mall can lead to the empowerment of Ramla’s center, and on a micro-level, to turn it from a sealed shut box to a complex and flexible structure which will symbolize locality and contain an array of activities.
Who influences you graphically?
I don’t have any specific or direct graphical influences. I tend to get my inspiration from everyday interactions and experiences such as wandering through the streets of Tel-Aviv, going to lectures, reading books and magazines, and web-surfing.
What defined the selection of views through which you choose to articulate the project?
Nowadays, the dying mall is a sealed box that is disconnected from the surrounding reality. The resurrected of the mall and the city’s center requires first bursting through this bubble of the structure and staining the space with Ramla’s reality and its many treasures that have been preserved through generations such as markets, minerts, ancient water pools, packed shops, dense neighborhoods and a warm welcome. The types of views I chose were part of my attempt to emphasize the merge of the existing routine reality of Ramla, with the new world I’m proposing.
Why did you choose to disregard more conventional tools of representation as the plan, section, elevation?
I wanted my project to communicate itself to as many people as possible and not just to the architects and designers that can read and understand the project through the conventional ways of representing. That’s why I chose to emphasize the project through means that are three-dimensional .
How important was the culture and site of Ramla when developing the project and the relevant images?
The mall is a sterile space that represents the culture of global consumerism. In response to the mall’s replicated typology, it was important for me to find both a solution and an architectural language that not only will communicate with its surrounding context but will also arise from it.
Ramla is a culturally mixed city that suffers not only from decades of neglection that perpetuates the city’s low socio-economic status, but also from poor branding and an ever-expanding dysconnectivity between its citizens. After the expulsion of the Arab population from Ramla, the city was abandonded and then re-populated with immigrants, Muslim Arabs and Christian Arabs as well, which is why it was essential for the solution to represent all of these different backgrounds and heritages.
Water is a key element in the magical history and culture of Ramla. The city was the capital of Palestine during the time of the Muslim Empire under the Umayyad Caliphate and the Abbasid Caliphate as well. During those years, countless water-related structures were built, such as Ramla’s Aquaduct and its subterranean pools.
While a mall is a familiar and an ordinary structure in almost every city, Ramla’s pool system is a distinct and unique feature that constitutes as a get-together for Ramla’s citizens.
The positive ‘friction’ that is created in the public spaces in Ramla is the base of me choosing the renewed program. The public pool is a parliament, a place to lay-back, play backgammon and drink black coffee. It is a space where there is room not only for the heterogenic cluster of the local citizens, but also to the guest that dropped-by for a visit, to the passersby that was on his way to the train station or the central bus station, to the district’s people that came to their district’s hall, and even to the Ramla’s youth that search for a place to hang-out. The pools bring back the old parliament to the center of attention and create a direct, open and accessible space for all possible purposes.