08 . 16 . 2019


Territoria’s Design Lab Director Answers 5 Key Questions

Territoria’s Design Lab Director Answers 5 Key Questions

Luis Eduardo Carmona spoke to us about new trends in retail, demands of new generations and how the Mercado Urbano Tobalaba (MUT) project began.

  1. How is the shopping center concept being reshaped today? Why?

Pensamos que en Santiago y, en general, en gran parte del mundo, se copió un modelo de mall americano, que se basa en un cajón cerrado con un rol meramente transaccional de compra y venta de productos. Este modelo se impuso en una sociedad como la chilena que está más acostumbrada a las plazas, a la vida en la calle y al aire libre. A este modelo le fue muy bien, pero es ajeno a la cultura original.

In Santiago and in most of the world, we copied the American mall model based on a closed box that plays only a transactional role of buying and selling products. It was imposed on societies like Chile that are more used to plazas, and life in the streets and the open air. This model has done really well, but it is alien to our original culture.

In turn, with the appearance of the Internet, and the variety and depth of products on offer, even mega malls are too small to compete. Which is why the current concept of shopping has turned more towards experience retail, of fun places, not just a place to buy and sell, but rather give an entire new meaning to food, free time and leisure.

It is something that is happening around the world. Most malls that I helped to develop in Asia, are looking to reinvent the model that was created in the United States, where many malls are closing down. So we decided to incorporate programs of music, entertainment, cinema, culture and dining. Here in South America we are a little more behind, but we are following the same push for change.


  1. How will this trend influence the demands of younger generations?

There is a huge influence, younger generations are leading the way. Our project is an investment for the long-term, 50 years ahead, it is not an investment in a project that we will develop and then sell and then it can be someone else’s problem. We are going to stay with the project, so we want it to include everyone, including adults, senior citizens, but also incorporate new trends that younger generations bring to this world that is forever changing, faster and faster, where everything happens on our phones and computers. In many ways they are the future, a not too distant future, so they definitely plat a key role in what we are doing.


  1. In that context, are did Mercado Urbano Tobalaba (MUT) come about?

It began as a problem, a question. We had an amazing site, what we believe to be the best site in Santiago, with access to the city’s financial district, access to one of the biggest neighborhoods and right above two Metro lines, at the busiest Metro station in the whole system. So, there was a problem, an expensive site, very well located, with a lot of people, and the question was, “what should we do?” we have to do something for the city.

Así empezó de a poco a formarse el tema de qué hacer que no fuera empezar a repetir un modelo existente. Creo que fue la ubicación, la irrupción del ecommerce y el estado que estaban los grandes cajones de retail, los que nos hizo pensar y ahí nació el concepto de Territoria Apoquindo de cómo arreglemos o mejoremos lo que hay y aprovechamos la gran esquina que tenemos. Por eso salimos a entrevistar a la gente, se hicieron muchos estudios de lo que faltaba y se empezó a dilucidar qué hacer.

That is how we began to shape the issue of what to do without repeating an existing model. I think it was the location, the irruption of ecommerce and the state in which the big boxes of retail were in, that made us think, and that is how the concept of Territoria Apoquindo began, how we fix or improve what we have and make the most of the amazing block that we have. So we decided to interview people, make studies of things that were missing and we started to dilucidated what to do.

Following this, we created the concept of stores that open up to the street, that exhibit their brands, that not only sell products but also offer experiences. To get back some of the neighborhood lifestyle, the street, and make the most of the location.


  1. What is the focus of the concept and what are you looking to achieve with this development?

We began by focusing very strongly on the importance of green, open spaces, sustainability, open retail, entertainment and transport. One of the blessings of this project was that we managed to change all of the mitigations focused on roads, such as widening streets, creating bridges, changing traffic lights etc. for mitigations focused on pedestrians and the community.

We are expanding the Metro station and creating a huge hub to park bikes, to reduce the private use of cars and encourage people to use bikes and public transport.


  1. How do you think that traditional malls will change in the future?

I think that, short term, those big boxes will have to open up, make space for entertainment, they’re not going to be able to sell the same things, they will have to either reinvent themselves or close down. We have to start looking at smaller formats, making them fun and look at ways of enabling them to compete with the Internet, and I think the obvious way is to add something more personalized, experiences between people and not just clicking on a screen. I think that the space for interaction between people will be key to our current society, as we’re all stuck on our phones, so it’s important that we have off-line space that can coexist with the digital world.