As towns metamorphose into cities and cities develop into mega cities, the quest to create decent shopping malls continue to rise. The advantages a shopping mall over a regular market is huge ranging from the presence of co-ordinated ample parking spaces to giving shoppers the extra opportunity to shop and get entertained at the same time. Truly, the ever soaring mall culture has made owning a mall a big business not only in Nigeria but the world over. Most shopping malls have a collection of shops, stores, restaurants, cinemas, services outlets (e.g. e-banking outlets), etc. offering a wide range of affordable products and services to a vast number of people in a more convenient ’cashless’ manner and fit perfectly into densely populated residential as well as commercial areas. Modern (enveloped) shopping malls class themselves higher than the traditional open shopping complexes because of their envelope design that allows for central cooling of all the shops or outlets throughout the day as well as proximity advantage for quick shopping in the building. Generally shoppers feel a sense of peaceful ambience and safety in enveloped shopping malls than the traditional type.
There is still a huge shortage of enveloped shopping malls across towns and cities in Nigeria and the demand is relatively high. Viral pictures taken and shared by mall users during weekends and festive seasons which normally show crowd rush only provide more evidence to this assertion.
Recent industry estimates have showed that the financial returns developers derive from owning classy multi-occupier shopping malls are now scaling higher than what obtains from an office complex of the same size in the same location. This is forcing more and more developers to think aloud on converting existing office buildings or spaces existing in shopping hotspots into ultra-modern shopping malls.
Converting an office building into an enveloped mall like other conversion projects would first require that a thorough assessment is carried out on the building to identify its load-bearing and non-load bearing components. Sometimes, it becomes imperative to conduct an integrity test on the major structural components of the building to ascertain their current strength parameters (especially if it is an old structure) as naturally, shopping malls are designed to accommodate more live loads due to heavy human traffic and movement of heavyweight goods and furniture than typical office buildings.
The way office buildings are partitioned is quite different too, hence the need for very detailed conversion architectural and engineering designs which may compel the use of shoring techniques to reposition some load-bearing columns, beams and walls. Attention must equally be given to the use of high quality aesthetic interior and exterior finishes as a selling point. For enveloped malls, there is often the need to redesign and reconfigure the entire lighting and cooling systems as well as the transport mechanism within the building too. The conversion process demands paying attention to a lot of details but once the mall is set, everybody smiles.