A shopping mall, commonly referred to as a mall, is one or more buildings, which forms a complex of shops that represent merchandisers. It has interconnecting walkways, which enable visitors to move from one unit to unit within the mall. In some places, people refer to shopping malls as, shopping centers, shopping precinct or a shopping arcade. Normally, malls are located away from central business districts (American Planning Association, 1954). Like any other building, there exist standards for governing the building of shopping malls. Specifically, this paper examines regulations applied in the world, Middle East, and Saudi Arabia in the building of shopping malls.
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It is suitable that a mall should be located at a place that takes an average of 30 minutes drive from a marketplace (American Planning Association, 1954). This time is calculated by considering the condition and congestion of a place, ignoring the linear distance. A mall does not have to exceed two stories. This implies that it should not be more than 25 feet in height (American Planning Association, 1954).
Entrance and exists to a shopping mall are vital. For a large shopping mall, four exits are suitable to cater for the customers. This goes together with the parking space. For a shopping mall that is accessed with one way aisles, a parking space of 10 feet is recommended. Conversely, a mall that is accessed with two way aisles should have a parking space of at least 20 feet. Generally, the parking space for a mall is standardized at a ratio of 3:1. This implies that for every one square feet of retail in a mall, there should be three square feet car parking space (American Planning Association, 1954). If the parking lots have sidewalks, the sidewalks should be at least seven feet wide to make it easier for people carrying packages to move freely. External doors to the mall should have a minimum clear width of 1000mm (Draft Public Consultation, 2009). Refreshment facilities (bar and restaurant) should be accessible by all users. Wide doors cater for free movement in and out of the mall. In addition, it helps the visitors to avoid touching other facilities like door hinges as they move. The facility should not be more than 850mm above the floor (Draft Public Consultation, 2009).
Floor space is a vital regulation in the building of a shopping mall. A mall should not exceed two stories. This is a standard height of 25 feet. The floor space is supposed to be 0.25 percent of the entire mall building (American Planning Association, 1954). In addition, the ground floor space is set not to be more than 25% of the building total area lot. The reason for large floor space in the malls is to allow free and comfortable movements by the visitors. Visitors who move freely without disturbances are likely to tour the mall more times. Congested malls discourage visitors. Finally, malls should be well ventilated and make maximum use of natural light. The materials used for construction should allow the building to be penetrated by sunlight to minimize lighting costs (American Planning Association, 1954).
In Middle East, building standards are derived mostly from the companies that use European construction standards, especially for large projects. This implies that the standards used may vary. For instance, there are companies from Europe, which permits construction of shopping malls in the central city areas (Baar, 2002). However, some European standards demand for construction of shopping malls outside the city centers. In addition, for shopping malls (public buildings), internally, there should be a maximum of 12 to16 risers in premises in which there is space restriction. Handrails used on the stairs should be 840 or 900 to 1100mm. the handrail should be designed 60-75mm from the wall. Last, the European standards, which are used in Middle East requires that a public building should meet the equality act of 2010. The act requires that a public building should be constructed with facilities that cater for people with disabilities. Middle East regulation for building shopping malls may differ from one country to another depending on the builder used and the country of origin. for instance, the building standards in United Arab Emirates differs with standards of constructing malls in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and vice versa. It can be concluded that the shopping malls building standards in Middle East are dominated by the regulations derived from European countries coupled with international regulations and requirements (Bodouri, 2007).
In Saudi Arabia, the regulations for shopping malls are unique. This uniqueness can be linked to the country’s Islamic culture. For instance, in the construction of a mall with bar and restaurant, the owner should segregate a place for single women and single men (Badouri, 2007). This is because the country prohibits them from dining together. Malls with restaurant and bars that allow association of single men and women in Saudi Arabia does not meet the standards. The mall should distinguish a place for married men and women. For instance, a place for single men can be constructed in the upper part of the mall and that for women at the lower floor. In addition, fashion cloth retails within a mall are also distinguished. However, Saudi Arabia shopping malls do not specialize much in fashion retails.
In constructing a mall in Saudi Arabia, a builder has to use heat resistant building materials because the country is located in a hot dessert region. Heat resistant materials make a mall to be a comfortable place that can be used by different kinds of visitors. The mall should also have facilities that can help the visitors cool from the day heat. Generally, in Saudi Arabia it is important to distinguish the shopping mall units by considering the Islamic culture. When this is considered, other international regulations and European standards can be applied.
Building of shopping malls requires one to think in terms of accommodating different visitors who are expected to come to the building. The accommodation has to deal with the parking space and movement from different units within the mall. Limitation of parking and movement space challenges visitors from enjoying the place. This study indicates that construction of malls in Middle East is based on the standards from European countries. Saudi Arabia being a Middle East country also relies on the standards brought by the European construction companies coupled with global standards. However, this country distinguishes its standards by designing them to cater for its Islamic cultural needs. Therefore, building a shopping mall is directed by regional, world standards, and special needs of a specific place, like culture.
American Planning Association. (1954). Site Design, Parking and Zoning for Shopping Centers. Web.
Baar, K. (2002). Legislative Tools for Preserving Town Centers and Halting the Spread of Hypermarkets and Malls outside of Cities. New York: Institute for Transport and Development Policy.
Badouri, S. (2007). Construction Boom in UAE & Saudi Arabia: Opportunities for Asian Companies. In Master Builders, 3rd Quarter, pp. 80-92.
Draft Public Consultation. Building Regulations 2009. Web.