A Choreography of Spatial Sequences
Emaar Square Mall
Libadiye Cad., Istanbul

To experience the real Istanbul, one must not only visit the Byzantine mosaics and colourful bazaars, but also walk its tangled streets. Drawing inspiration from Istanbul’s vivid street life, the design for Emaar Square Mall choreographs a new way of organising the large-scale built environment by bringing different components of the master plan into a seamless whole.

Over 400 indoor and outdoor shops – including restaurants, cafés and entertainment outlets – are spread across five storeys, three below the ground and two above it. The underground shopping network takes to a continuous loop that is segmented in four seasonally themed retail zones.

Moving away from the tendency toward introversion of conventional shopping malls, the design team turns the shopping mall inside out and proposes a system of paths as ‘streets’ to connect its ‘plazas’ and ‘public squares’. By reinterpreting the local patterns as a spatial sequence with distinct nodes and views and respecting the everyday environment in Istanbul, the shopping mall becomes a meaningful and delightful environment that reflects the lively Istanbul streets and inspires visitors to rediscover the spirit of exploration in the vibrant, interesting bazaar activities and shopping.

The circulation route of Emaar Square Mall on the ground level is a clear loop with pockets of different scale of public spaces within the main pedestrian boulevard. Walking along it, the architecture and landscape design integrates contemporary aesthetics with traditional architectural proportions, creating a richly textured and inviting urban environment.

Segmented in four seasonally themed retail zones, each zone is given unique design elements that provide visual landmarks for the visitors, enabling ease of wayfinding underground. For instance, the Autumn zone features a palette of rich browns and metallic copper and timber. This contrasts with the Winter zone’s icy palette of crystalline white and silver.

The sequence of activities and architectural elements such as skylights, terraces and fountains along the route are also carefully incorporated into the interior design for the aesthetic pleasure of the moving observers. The mall’s central large sunken plaza operates as a constantly active theatre for people-watching and as a multi-purpose space featuring outdoor dining around an interactive water feature.

Istanbul is one of the most stimulating cities in the world where the streets are the celebrated space of everyday encounters and social activities that bring people together. The design of the mall reinterprets the city’s intimate street pattern; its streets, squares and other public spaces.

Design team

DP Architects, DP Design