Research Title: Socialism and Shopping: The role of the shopping mall in the formation of public space in modern China
Director of Studies: Professor Murray Fraser
Second Supervisor: Ben Stringer
Starting Date and Mode of Study: 2007 Part-Time
China represents an opportunity to evaluate the urban model of the shopping mall in the context of a ‘socialist market economy’. For example, as Beijing undergoes the process of modernization readying itself for the attention of the world during the 2008 Olympics, the shopping mall posits itself uneasily as the new urban space through which international visitors will experience the modernised city – Oriental Plaza in Beijing is now as the largest shopping centre in Asia, containing five shopping malls. But while China outwardly displays the mechanics of global capitalism it remains a communist state. Utilising a building typology predicated on values of social control as a motif for modernisation and urban space has deeply worrying implications in this context and will be an important topic of exploration in terms of assessing the social relevance of current and future prototypes of the mall. The methodology for this study will be based on research, field visits, consultation/interviews and analysis of socio-economic, geographical, cultural and spatial factors. This will be employed to develop a series of key themes against which a discursive base can be established that is relevant to the global and local context of each of the precedents that is to be employed in this study. This will be established in the form of a series of experiential threads, which will be used to penetrate the various layers of social and spatial meaning within the mall.