The Janus-Faced Shopping Center: The low countries in search of a fitting shopping paradigm

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    When in the mid-1950s, the shopping center typology reached the Low Countries, it confronted governments, policy makers, architects, and planners with the question of how to introduce and adapt this novel commercial typology to the local context. To respond to this question, several “missions” were organized to study this phenomenon abroad. The conclusion was that two distinct shopping center paradigms existed: the American model, as it could be observed in the United States and Canada, and the European model, as it had emerged in Sweden, France, and Great Britain. This article investigates what these missions identified as the distinctive characteristics of these two shopping center models, and which specific recommendations regarding urban and suburban retailing and distribution were derived from them. Finally, the article examines how these suggestions were implemented in or translated into the first shopping center designs in the Low Countries: “Shopping 1” in Genk (Belgium) and Amstelveen shopping center in the Netherlands.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)862-886
    Number of pages25
    JournalJournal of Urban History
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    • Amstelveen
    • Belgium
    • Genk
    • New towns
    • Shopping center
    • The Netherlands
    • Victor Gruen


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