Shopping malls have found a convenient new tenant: the working population. In a 2019 article for The New York Times, Tom Acitelli found an example in Google’s renovation of Westside Pavilion, a failing mall in Los Angeles, into a new complex for the tech behemoth, slated for completion in 2022. He stated that the biggest beneficiaries of the conversions are co-working enterprises – WeWork, for instance, has properties within shopping centres – quoting a study by global property company Jones Lang LaSalle that found the highest concentration of co-working spaces in retail in the US is in malls. The same study, Acitelli continued, predicted that co-working space in retail in general would grow at an annual rate of 25 percent through 2023. ‘Offices are less risky than retailers,’ he wrote, ‘and in some cases they can generate foot traffic for the mall’s remaining stores and restaurants.’

Similar solutions are cropping up in China, a country found by CBRE research to have built half of the brand new mall space in the world in 2013, only to see 30 per cent vacancy in malls in 2014. In Chengdu, for example, Superimpose transformed the third and fourth floors of a low-occupancy yet centrally located WIFC shopping mall into a creative platform for Soho 3Q, China’s leading co-working office space developer.

With the floors’ two distinct and discrete atmospheres making any kind of uniformity challenging, Superimpose decided to work with the disparateness. They themed the zones as separate worlds according to Chengdu’s two contrasting appellations: ‘land of abundance’ and ‘man-made city’. The former is expressed as a lush green space with natural materials including wood and stone, while the latter relies on orthogonal geometries and industrial materials such as cement board, aluminum and concrete.

Read about more workspaces here.