Entertainment-Retail Centres in Hong Kong and Los Angeles: Trends and Lessons

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Irazábal, C. and S. Chakravarty. “Entertainment-Retail Centers in Hong Kong and Los Angeles: Trends and Lessons.” International Planning Studies 12(3), 2007, 241-271. https://doi.org/10.1080/13563470701640150


This paper examines the evolution and recent trends in the design of Entertainment Retail Centres (ERCs) in Los Angeles and Hong Kong. Most of the literature on spaces of consumption and leisure deals with economic reasons for the development of these spaces, and with the social, cultural, and political implications of the phenomenon. There are limitations to this approach that this study addresses. First, there has been a lack of attention to processes of globalization in the analysis of these spaces. Furthermore, a largely US-centred approach has left out an understanding of the significance of the ERC phenomenon in other societies. Secondly, the literature lacks a sufficient appreciation of the particularities of urban planning and design associated with ERCs. A body of work addresses the issues of the organization of space within the mall, and its architectonics. However, these studies are by definition limited to the complex, and not oriented towards the urban setting. This paper seeks to address these gaps by moving towards an understanding of the relationship of entertainment retail spaces to their urban and glocal contexts. It considers ERCs not only for the construction of economics, but also of urban, social, and cultural forces, and simultaneously as agents for the mediation of these forces in the built environment of localized places. The analysis is organized along four related themes—land use, transportation, urban design, and consumption patterns. The conclusion offers lessons that can orient both these global cities’ trajectories and those of the cities that follow in their footsteps.