As the Lekki Peninsula Mall or Lekki Mall in short, reaches the more advanced stages of construction, it is pertinent to question its degree of innovation and character. This is evidently one of the largest malls in Nigeria, at 22,000m2, but does it strive for more than your average big box centre?
One of the greatest criticisms of big box retail, hyper-modernity and heterotopias, is the insulation of these spaces from the outside world. A practice deemed necessary, by property economists, architects, urban designers and theorists, these retail centres are closed off, to create a unique atmosphere, detached from the real world; promoting a field of mass consumerism. The issue, lies not in criticizing these hyper-modern environments, as they serve a very unique and specific purpose in the built environment, but rather in critiquing their versatility or lack thereof. In competitive urban environments, with increasing land values, challenging rates of occupancy and high construction costs, there are growing calls for versatility in all modes of buildings.
In a shopping centre, versatility can entail, the inclusion of traditional elements or transitional spaces and rest areas, outside of the general layout. These areas can be external appendages, rooftop lounges and other spaces that allow consumers to achieve some respite, from the 'big box'. These spaces, also serve the additional function of providing the centre, with character. The best example of such a centre in Nigeria, is arguably the Jabi Lake Mall in Abuja. The Jabi Lake mall actively engages with the waterfront, with a lakeside boardwalk and first floor terrace.
The Ikeja City Mall in Lagos also features an upper floor terrace with cafes and restaurants and is the next best destination in this regard. However the Lekki Peninsula mall, has rather continued in the vein of the Palms Shopping Mall (Lekki) and the Polo Park Mall (Enugu). The Lekki mall, has a curved front elevation, to break the pattern of the repetitive block forms. This curtain wall facade, is however a missed opportunity to provide an outdoor deck or terrace and simply 'glosses' over, its simplistic articulation. While the $83 Million facility will adequately compete with the Palms Shopping mall, for the time being; the Palms Lekki, upon expansion will become more versatile and enticing.
The construction update below, from late August 2015, shows the particular 'missed opportunity' in question, as well as the general state of construction.
Written by T.Adeniyi for Blackborderbuild.com