This urban center may look normal, if having lunch on a roof of a mall is normal.
Sadly replacing the traditional Arab Souqs or markets that tourists flock to see, malls are becoming as much an urban Middle Eastern phenomenon as any American city. But if there must be malls, let them be more like the Meydan shopping complex in Istanbul designed by Foreign Office Architects. Urban centers generate significant heat – called the heat island effect – as well as greenhouse gases. And malls, which are usually large and well-lit, eat up a lot of energy. To mitigate these problems, passive design encourages plenty of natural lighting, and best of all, the first-of-its-kind green roof absorbs a lot of the excess heat while also creating a pleasant place for people to spend an afternoon.
The Meydan mall is hill-shaped and situated in the nucleus of a new and growing Instanbul suburb. Instead of relying on a power plant for its heating and cooling needs, those functions are provided via boreholes.
Public-lighting is generated from solar energy, but since many of the public spaces are outside (yes, on TOP of the mall), the need for most lighting only really occurs at night.
The parking lot is underground. In addition to keeping ground space open, this also helps to cut back on the heat island effect, since cars parked outside in the hundreds absorb a lot of heat. The ground floor shops are then concentrated to create a breezy open square.
Skylights flood the area with natural lighting and the building is naturally ventilated. Outside, the green roof, natural shading, and wind shelters all help to keep the area cool.
While it is a shame to lose the culture that makes the Middle East so unique, it is at least hopeful that developers in the region are paying attention to pressing environmental concerns and addressing them with clever design.
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