Mall City

Hong Kong’s Dreamworlds of Consumption


Edited by Stefan Al

ISBN : 978-988-8208-96-8

Architecture, Urban Planning, Environmental Studies

July 2016

248 pages, 6″ x 9″, approx. 150 color and 50 b&w illus.

For sale in Asia only

  • HK$250.00

Hong Kong is the twenty-first-century paradigmatic capital of consumerism. Of all places, it has the densest and tallest concentration of malls, reaching tens of stories. Hong Kong’s malls are also the most visited, sandwiched between subways and skyscrapers. These mall complexes have become cities in and of themselves, accommodating tens of thousands of people who live, work, and play within a single structure. Mall City features Hong Kong as a unique rendering of an advanced consumer society. Retail space has come a long way since the nineteenth-century covered passages of Paris, which once awed the bourgeoisie with glass roofs and gaslights. It has morphed from the arcade to the department store, and from the mall into the “mall city,” where “expresscalators” crisscross mesmerizing atria. Highlighting the effects of this development in Hong Kong, this book raises questions about architecture, city planning, culture, and urban life.

Stefan Al is an associate professor of urban design at the University of Pennsylvania.

“At the nexus of density, humidity, topography, and prosperity, Hong Kong has spawned more malls per square mile than any place on earth. This fantastic book decodes and graphically depicts an environment both apart and ubiquitous, a convulsive form of public space in a liquid territory where intensely contested politics, commerce, and sociability weirdly merge in a city like no other.” —Michael Sorkin, distinguished professor of architecture of the City University of New York

“Hong Kong may be packed with the most shopping malls per square kilometer in the world, but Mall City is packed with the most drawings, information, and fascinating mall facts. The book dissects, categorizes, and displays all kinds of intriguing data on the city-state’s shopping complexes and culture. Its richly layered analysis perfectly matches Hong Kong’s multi-story machines for consumption.” —Clifford Pearson, director of USC American Academy in China

“Stefan Al has again produced a book that provides a sharp lens on radically new urban forms that are emerging in China. While his previous books, Villages in the City and Factory Towns of South China introduced the site of production and housing for the migrant labor of the Pearl River Delta, here we enter the phantasmagoria of the enormous interconnected free-trade shopping zone of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Mall City dissects the basic unit of this climate-controlled consumer landscape—the mall. This beautifully illustrated book is a must-read for those who wish to understand the future of public space in high-density cities.” —Brian McGrath, professor of urban design and dean of constructed environments, Parsons School of Design