| entirely not sure of this. The Murder and I drive through
| Gurgaon twice a week, and several other IT-Factories in India
| we went to China twice as well.
| Can't seem to say one new city looks like another, except,
| of course, if your eye is attuned to the same. What we find
| the same about this whole sameness discussin' is the
| discussin' itself, not the Architecture. To say "glass and
| steel malls are the same everywhere" is like saying
| "Stone and brick tabernacles are the same everywhere" (and
| as professionals, not ngo-planner-discussin' types, we
| will have serious problems with these statements, even
| when uttered by certified architects. I suppose new cities,
| like chinamen look all alike to uninformed eyes.
| Indian malls are quite unique, and new Indian streets too!
| (attached images from the murder's Alphaville goes
| to Delhi series, Rohini and Saket mall sites.

Glassy, gaudy Gurgaon

Ravi Teja Sharma / New Delhi July 7, 2007


Misguided attempts to ape the West have robbed Gurgaon of local
aesthetics or any individual character.

This is remarkable - and more than a little disturbing - for several
reasons. Let me begin with the most trivial reason. All these malls are
designed along "international" lines, with enclosed centrally
air-conditioned spaces for retailers to the affluent. There is, of
course, an aesthetic loss here, in the disappearance of any individual
creativity in design.

There is a depressing sameness to the architectural features. These
malls could be in Tokyo or Calgary, Jakarta or Buenos Aires, Cape Town
or Bangkok, since they are everywhere informed by the same sensibility,
regardless of climatic variation and local culture. They all have the
steel, chrome, cement and glass combinations that have become the
physical emblems of our globalised world.

Even the shops are the same - the same well-known large retailers
displaying the same big multinational brands. This is curiously seen as
a source of pride and delight, even though it means that there is less
possibility of catering to local tastes and allowing travellers the joy
of discovering differences.

Then, of course, there are the environmental issues associated with this
particular form of retail development. There is no doubt that the mall
format for retail trade is more energy intensive, more wasteful of water
and other scarce resources and more potentially polluting than other
smaller forms of retailing such as neighbourhood shops, local markets
and community shopping centres. They are based on a lifestyle typical of
American suburbia whereby most households have cars and can drive down
to malls to make all their purchases but rare in most developing
countries. Since this is an environmentally unsustainable mode of
existence, it is surprising to see that this has become the desired
model across the world.