Dr. Reinitzhuber, how did architectural design of shopping centers change over the past few years?
Karl Reinitzhuber: The architecture of shopping centers and for that matter architecture in general follows trends. The architects we commission like to get inspired by museum facades. They often mirror the current zeitgeist, especially when it comes to the choice of materials. For some time for instance, facades made of glass and sheet metal have been in vogue. One recent prominent example is the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart.
Admittedly, we are subject to more restrictions. We need to be mindful of the inner city environment for example. And we need to build in a way where our tenants are provided with optimal conditions. And perceptions have also changed in this area. In the past, storefronts were all lined up in a row for instance. In newer centers such as the Pasing Arcaden in Munich, tenants can be flexible in their design and are allowed to build one-and-a-half meters out into the mall for instance. This creates more variety and makes the Center more interesting for guests.
Many customers find shopping centers less interesting than online shopping. How exactly do you as an operator respond to this so they don’t switch over even more to online retailers?
Reinitzhuber: Online retail is a reality and it is going to increase even further. But long-distance relationships are rarely ideal – neither in the personal sector nor when it comes to business. If you sit at the computer and order items, you don’t get to experience anything. We need to make sure that our tenants‘ customers feel good in the centers and that their stay there turns into an experience that goes beyond mere shopping. In the past, the goal was for guests to find the individual stores as quickly as possible and then leave the mall again.
Today the goal of mall owners and their tenants is for guests to linger as long as possible in the shopping centers; a goal that is also pursued by architecture. It should be seen as a unit where you can pursue different leisure time activities. Above all, the service in the centers needs to be great – by retailers and restaurants as well as mfi as a mall owner.
We developed our four-star service concept for this, which takes its cue from the quality parameters of the hospitality sector and to be more precise the service level of four-star hotels. Each center that wants to meet this standard needs to fulfill an extensive checklist of requirements, which is reviewed by an external institute. So far, this is a unique concept for our industry sector. You can say in a nutshell that architectural design needs to be one of the services and feel good factors in the center.