The urbanity in the cities is dead: Long live the urbanity in the shopping centres!

Lucia Štefancová


City functions as a living organism with its arteries, skeleton, supplemental tissue in form of residential areas and people who represent the essential nutrients inside its vein flow. Over the last few years, other organisms have started to appear in a city – shopping centers, which absorb large groups of the city visitors mainly by their content, organization and overall visual appearance, which causes the life in the city centres to be slowly dispersing. It is important to examine the reasons why people have become so fond of them and how this knowledge can be used to return life back into the city centres.

New shopping centers have become great rivals to the city centers. Shops, services and civil amenities migrate from the centre of town to rented spaces in shopping centers. In particular, historical city cores are becoming “folk museums for tourists” and provide only a limited range of functions – mostly restaurants and cafes. City centre’s weakness, in comparison with the shopping centers, is mainly in a relatively low quality of its urban spaces and an absence of functions and activities. On the other hand, only the city can offer a unique atmosphere and an identity formed by its history. Furthermore, city centre can provide its visitors with calm relaxing zones with vegetation, which are not present in shopping malls.

Apart from that, shopping centers are a phenomenon, which can appropriately fill in the missing functions of the city. If all the citizens would spend their time only in one place, the city would be over crowded.

Urban spaces should be flexible to a certain extent and be able to react to some changes (seasonal activities, markets, etc.). Changing the function, decoration or activities should motivate people to spend time at squares and streets. Emphasizing an ambience of such spaces by forming their identity, which has disappeared over time, would help create a greater variety of different environments to spend free time.

Keywords: city, urbanity, shopping centre, public life