Sky Shopping Centre - Riga (Latvia) - Riga (Lettonia)

A human-scale shopping centre

With their large floor spaces and open areas, shopping centres are destined to redraw the landscape of the suburbs, in the best cases forging new territorial identities.
Alessandra Coppa

One such case is that of the new Sky Shopping Center in Riga, Latvia, built in 2007 and winner of first prize in the Grand Prix Casalgrande Padana competition. The distinctive feature of this highly significant project is the use of functional floor solutions that at the same time display interesting compositional choices.
This project by Arnis Kleinbergs from the practice Arhis reinterprets the shopping centre building typology as a place for social aggregation on a human scale.
The outstanding architectural quality of this shopping centre makes it a pleasant, liveable, fun, human and flexible place.
Not surprisingly, the shopping mall typology first arose in the United States.
The primary need satisfied by American malls is that of saving time, so they have good road connections and are equipped with large car parks, fast food outlets and facilities for high-speed shopping.
But as this building demonstrates, over the years a new design focus has enabled these multifunctional centres to take on fresh characteristics that are a far cry from the initial American-style malls, instead expanding their functions to take on a social role. They are the new plazas that blend into the local area without necessarily displaying banal visual cues.
In the case of the Sky Shopping Center, considerable attention was devoted to the proportions of the building and the quality of the materials used. Rather than transitoriness, it displays elements of durability and establishes a meaningful dialogue with the surrounding context. A great deal of attention has clearly been devoted to the layout of circulation routes and escalator flows, as well as the organisation of the interior and exterior greenery.
The malls are conceived as city shopping streets lit by carefully filtered natural light and by artificial illumination designed to reflect from ceramic surfaces in such a way that it is always suited to Latvia’s Northern European climate.
In this respect, colour plays a key role both as a directional indicator and for defining internal circulation areas, red being the dominant tone. The pixel leitmotiv appears both inside and out in an alternation of lively colours and shades of grey.
This original pixelated colour composition entirely covers the ceramic floor and is based on the use of small tiles (30×30 cm) from Casalgrande Padana’s Marte and Unicolore series in various colours from pink, light blue and yellow through to black and grey. The same decorative effect is used on the upper strip of windows and the infill walls, as well as providing the identifying architectural feature of the external facade. The well controlled and coordinated graphic design ensures that the effect is dynamic and at the same time reassuring.

30x30 cm

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