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Why do strip malls/offices feel gloomy/depressing/soulless?

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Why do strip malls/offices feel gloomy/depressing/soulless?

Postby Winston » Thu Apr 25, 2013 3:05 am

Have any of you noticed that suburban strip malls and office buildings in America have a soulless, empty, gloomy feel and look to them? There is this gloomy ambience about them. It's as if they signify a life of robotic mechanized conformity where you have to put on a fake mask everyday in order to cope.

When I look at a strip mall or office building, I get a feeling of depression, sadness and hopelessness, as though life has no meaning. Any of you get that feeling too? Could it be that since I grew up in the suburbs, that the strip malls are associated with painful negative memories from childhood in my psyche?

It's not just the environment, but the square cookie cutter design of the strip malls and office buildings have an isolated lonely look and feel too. And you know those office buildings in industrial parks with dark silvery windows? Don't they look like prisons?

It's hard to put a finger on why that is. Do any of you feel that way too when looking at them? Or am I too sensitive and not of this world?

There is a feeling of conformity to the design of those structures as well, as though it were telling your subconscious mind to conform like a robot or something. Any of you notice that?

Here are sample images of what I mean:

Image

Image

Image
Last edited by Winston on Thu May 15, 2014 7:08 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Postby Tsar » Thu Apr 25, 2013 4:42 am

Three main reasons:

1. America has no appreciation for quality or tradition of building great works of architecture. Most homes, commercial properties, skyscrapers, and buildings look the same. Mass produced homes with no feeling or creative spark. Churches, expensive homes, custom homes, old buildings (usually built by immigrants or Americans in ages past when there was pride taken in their work and they valued quality). Now it's just getting the job built and conformity. Sometimes in tyrannies and police states there is a defacto vibe that deters creativity. Creativity inspires change, allows people to have unconventional thought, and dream. It allows people to become unique and be inspired. America is a tyranny and a police state, and only those who have money and power are generally allowed to have freedom and have their creativity respected (and usually their creativity is "acceptable" creativity that gets past the censorship and fits the regime's guidelines).

2. Architecture is a form of art. Uniform designs is similar to having people wear the same outfit, have the same hairstyle, and do the same things. Repetition and conformity to think like a hive. Do not question why things are the way they are. Accept them and be use to them. Many people never saw real architecture or they forget about it once they return from a trip. Many old cultures in Eurasia have architecture that inspires creativity and historical buildings. Some places in Africa and South America still have ancient architecture that stands. Many cultures, especially healthy cultures, value architecture as a form of art and take more pride in their designs. Many Americans overlook the subtle details because it's easy. It's almost like how no one really takes time to observe the trees, the sky, or the clouds. It's just there so they don't think about it.

3. In America it's mostly about what's inside the store. A shopping experience and materials. Why care about building a nice design when any design will do. It's just a shopping center and in America it's all about profit. Box-like stores and homes are the easiest to build. Building a beautiful building or a quality aesthetic building will be expensive. In America that's the reason why it's reserved for Churches, government buildings, museums, custom homes, luxury homes, resorts, some casinos and some hotels.
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Postby abcdavid01 » Thu Apr 25, 2013 4:57 am

Autophagy

http://therightstuff.biz/2012/12/23/autophagy/

Drive through most any town in the United States, and you will notice a recurrent theme, our societal leitmotif: at least one street (usually several) blighted by, sacrificed to, consumptive postmodernism.

Large and gaudy signs, unimaginative architecture, mass-produced imagery, welfare disguised as diversionary hourly make-work (Now hiring 4th assistant manager!). All of this designed for the singular, mechanical, amoral purpose of pandering already obsolescent shit to an ever lower common denominator.
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Postby Devil Dog » Thu Apr 25, 2013 3:59 pm

abcdavid01 wrote:Autophagy

http://therightstuff.biz/2012/12/23/autophagy/

Drive through most any town in the United States, and you will notice a recurrent theme, our societal leitmotif: at least one street (usually several) blighted by, sacrificed to, consumptive postmodernism.

Large and gaudy signs, unimaginative architecture, mass-produced imagery, welfare disguised as diversionary hourly make-work (Now hiring 4th assistant manager!). All of this designed for the singular, mechanical, amoral purpose of pandering already obsolescent shit to an ever lower common denominator.


Now that they need a 4th assistant manager maybe you can get a job.
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Postby S_Parc » Thu Apr 25, 2013 4:36 pm

Ppl, what you're missing is that we're in the infancy of the next phase. Sure, right now, there's a sense of isolation which pervades the American landscape, however, what happens when robotic companions & virtual reality simulations become mainstream and ubiquitous?

You see, the world as defined in 'The Matrix' and 'Surrogates' will become the *content* which satisfies the post modern man's cravings for stimulation and companionship. Society will no longer serve that purpose. Software will take over that role.
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Postby abcdavid01 » Thu Apr 25, 2013 4:59 pm

Devil Dog wrote:
Now that they need a 4th assistant manager maybe you can get a job.


pandering already obsolescent shit to an ever lower common denominator... :roll:

I used to think like that when I was maybe twelve S_Parc, but now I'm not so sure. Is it not utopianism?
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Re: Why do suburban strip malls feel isolated/conformist/sad

Postby zacb » Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:03 pm

Winston wrote:Have any of you noticed that suburban strip malls in America have an isolated feel and look to them? It's not just that the environment is isolating, but the square cookie cutter design of the strip mall itself has an isolated feel to it too. It's hard to put a finger on why that is. Are they purposely designed to connotate a feeling of isolation in suburban life? It certainly looks like it. In addition, there is a feeling of conformity to the design as well, as though the structure of the strip mall was telling your subconscious mind to conform like a robot or something. Any of you notice that?

Also, I don't know why, but when I look at a strip mall, I get a feeling of depression, sadness and hopelessness. Any of you get that feeling when looking at it too? Could it be that since I grew up in the suburbs, that the strip malls are associated with painful negative memories from childhood in my psyche?

Here are sample images of what I mean:

Image

Image

Image




The last one was not too bad, but I think the problem is design. I remember reading awhile back in Why We Buy that places like Brazil are more keen on integrating functionality into a selling area, such as a bench for men when women went shopping, or more security in malls. The author went on to say that malls were originally meant to be a gathering place, not just a commerce center. I know even from going in Wal Mart how boring and sterile it is. After they eliminated music from their store, it just killed any atmosphere it did have. They now have some, but Wal Mart does not feel right still. I think a lot goes back to functionality. Instead of encouraging sales through useful side service, it is commoditized commerce. (BTW, I would highly suggest reading Why We Buy, by Paco Underhill.)
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Postby S_Parc » Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:47 pm

abcdavid01 wrote:I used to think like that when I was maybe twelve S_Parc, but now I'm not so sure. Is it not utopianism?


It's actually a dystopia of sorts. When you were 12, the time when 'The Matrix' had come out, the idea of full immersion V.R. or companion 'bots, was clearly SciFi. Today, with the burgeoning field of expert systems vis-a-vis ultra cheap supercomputing in military, commercial, mining, & practically all other industries, what was little more than advanced gaming stuff only a decade ago, is about to change the face of the world we know.

The end result is that people won't be needed in the labor force. AI & robots will displace many workers. Here's Marshall Brain's Robotic Nation, an interesting view of this coming dystopia. I think it'll result in a type of widespread welfare state as hundreds of millions of workers will be displaced, including formerly white collar professionals.
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Postby Devil Dog » Thu Apr 25, 2013 6:49 pm

abcdavid01 wrote:
Devil Dog wrote:
Now that they need a 4th assistant manager maybe you can get a job.


pandering already obsolescent shit to an ever lower common denominator... :roll:





I just find it interesting that an unemployed dropout who is being supported by his mommy and daddy would belittle a job.
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Postby abcdavid01 » Thu Apr 25, 2013 6:50 pm

It's the eternal question...what to do with the proles? Slavery was one answer, which had its own set of problems and benefits, welfare is but another.

Oh, but I was really thinking of anime. Chobits and Metropolis from 2001.

Thanks for the link; I'll take a look around it. I'm not sure anyone knows yet what the full effect will be.
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Postby abcdavid01 » Thu Apr 25, 2013 7:03 pm

Devil Dog wrote:
abcdavid01 wrote:
Devil Dog wrote:
Now that they need a 4th assistant manager maybe you can get a job.


pandering already obsolescent shit to an ever lower common denominator... :roll:





I just find it interesting that an unemployed dropout who is being supported by his mommy and daddy would belittle a job.


I just find it pitiful that a sellout old man has to prove he still has any testosterone left by insulting young people.

GET OFF MY LAWN!
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Postby momopi » Fri Apr 26, 2013 1:16 am

American architecture has a heavy dosage of faking it and wanna be's. Take for example the popular Tuscany style homes built in recent decade:

Image


No matter how good it might look, it's still a facade, and your HOA will never be like the real Florence. Dig a little deeper and you'll find the house is basically put together with prefab parts. However, mass produced / assembly line home kits was one of America's strengths in the past. Once about a time, you could order a "Sears catalog home" by mail, and Sears will ship all the parts to you by rail and you can put the house together yourself. This enabled young American families to afford their own homes. Sears had some 200 different designs that you could choose from, unlike today where typical builders only have around 4 variations in the same HOA.


Image


When I was growing up in the States, it was common for teenagers to gather and hang out at arcades and the mall. This was when Atari was doing well and arcades were popular. In smaller towns there were few places for teens to hang out and have fun, so the shop at local strip mall with some arcades was a gathering place for friends to play Gauntlet or whatever. Less antisocial than to ambush someone and tie them to a tree before running off. However these days kids are more likely to stay home and play video games or go on the internet. The mall food court where teenagers used to hang out and flirt with girls doesn't seem as lively now.
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Postby zacb » Fri Apr 26, 2013 1:50 am

momopi wrote:American architecture has a heavy dosage of faking it and wanna be's. Take for example the popular Tuscany style homes built in recent decade:

Image


No matter how good it might look, it's still a facade, and your HOA will never be like the real Florence. Dig a little deeper and you'll find the house is basically put together with prefab parts. However, mass produced / assembly line home kits was one of America's strengths in the past. Once about a time, you could order a "Sears catalog home" by mail, and Sears will ship all the parts to you by rail and you can put the house together yourself. This enabled young American families to afford their own homes. Sears had some 200 different designs that you could choose from, unlike today where typical builders only have around 4 variations in the same HOA.


Image


When I was growing up in the States, it was common for teenagers to gather and hang out at arcades and the mall. This was when Atari was doing well and arcades were popular. In smaller towns there were few places for teens to hang out and have fun, so the shop at local strip mall with some arcades was a gathering place for friends to play Gauntlet or whatever. Less antisocial than to ambush someone and tie them to a tree before running off. However these days kids are more likely to stay home and play video games or go on the internet. The mall food court where teenagers used to hang out and flirt with girls doesn't seem as lively now.
You my sir make a great point. It seems like the only thing to do is drink and party. I am kind of happy we still have a small arcade in my town. You codified my thoughts. The only things to do where I live is the outdoors, museums, theater, 711, library, arcade, and home, which seem decent, but it is hard when you exhaust those resources and have no friends.
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Re: Why do suburban strip malls feel isolated/conformist/sad

Postby Teal Lantern » Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:12 am

Winston wrote:Have any of you noticed that suburban strip malls in America have an isolated feel and look to them? It's not just that the environment is isolating, but the square cookie cutter design of the strip mall itself has an isolated feel to it too. It's hard to put a finger on why that is. Are they purposely designed to connotate a feeling of isolation in suburban life? It certainly looks like it. In addition, there is a feeling of conformity to the design as well, as though the structure of the strip mall was telling your subconscious mind to conform like a robot or something. Any of you notice that?

Also, I don't know why, but when I look at a strip mall, I get a feeling of depression, sadness and hopelessness. Any of you get that feeling when looking at it too? Could it be that since I grew up in the suburbs, that the strip malls are associated with painful negative memories from childhood in my psyche?


They are designed to be simple to build quickly and to get you inside, to spend your cash, and out easily -- not so you can stand around outside and admire the architecture. :roll:

If mall design stirs feeeeewings of anything besides
"I'm here to get $#!^ done and get on with my day", then, yeah, the problem lies with you.
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Postby drealm » Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:54 am

Winston, watch this lecture. It's long but if you like architecture and town planning you may enjoy this.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwd4Lq0Xvgc[/youtube]
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