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City mall, the Hub Karen, borrows design elements from old Europe

By Peter Muiruri | Sep 22nd 2016 | 3 min read
By Peter Muiruri | September 22nd 2016
A Section of The Hub Karen mall with a recreational lake taken on 7th June 2016. The entire development is woven around a central Piazza akin to the city squares and colonnades that were the hallmark of ancient Europe. (PHOTO:WILBERFORCE OKWIRI/ STANDARD)

The Hub at Karen is yet another addition to the growing list of malls within the city. The concrete and glass magnets are designed to draw in shoppers. But to attrcat shoppers, the new edifices must go the extra mile.

The Hub at Karen is built with elements from a European style of a bygone era. The entire development is woven around a central Piazza akin to the city squares and colonnades that were the hallmark of ancient Europe.

Back then, squares were common features in countries such as Italy that drew masses for various repertoire of amusement games on offer. The Hub has wide arches and earthen hues that give it a modern feel.

The piazza at The Hub takes on a similar role. Here, you can sit down to catch some breath after an expansive shopping spree while catching up on the latest online gossip through the free Wi-Fi connection. The more adventurous can cruise their hover-boards and skateboards along the Piazza.

According to the mall’s marketing manager Linda Muriithi, creating a half-acre open space was deliberate move by the developer, a move that has revolutionalised the way we look at our malls. The relaxing atmosphere, adds Muriithi, means that it is impossible for a visitor to walk in and out of the mall.

“The piazza gives a comforting touch to the whole development. One does not feel overwhelmed by the huge development. Sit and listen to the sounds, catch the rhythm, the pulse and heart of Karen. You can relax and watch your children play about in safe surroundings. We have had people come here, say at eleven in the morning, are taken in by the nice ambience and leave way past four in the afternoon,” she says.

But the piazza serves another critical role that is central to the mall’s fresh ambience. As part of sustainable construction practices, the open space regulates the airflow, allowing the mall to remain cool even during the hotter periods of the day. In addition, the piazza allows for natural lighting to most of the shopping units thus helping conserve electricity.

Going back to ancient Europe, the mall has one of the most conspicuous features of that old era – a clock tower. The tower at The Hub may not be as high as the Big Ben in England, one of the most recognizable in the world, or Palazzo Vecchio in Italy with its Galileo-inspired pendulum. It still takes you back in time when a city’s lifestyle revolved around a clock tower.

On the upper ground floor is another favourite spot for the younger generation. Known as Funscapes, the amusement zone has a whole lot of activities including video games and the ‘Octopus’ ride. An additional segment here is The Planetarium, a dark dome where a whole family can sit in solitude with their eyes into the ‘sky’ and get an experience of how our world looks like from space. The Planetarium is the first local theatre solely dedicated to astronomy.

Located on the open ground overlooking the mall is a manmade lake surrounded by a lush garden of canna Australia and birds of paradise blossoms including a well-paved footpath for revellers.
As Jonathan Yach, the mall’s manager puts it, “visual merchandising or ‘The Art of Retailing’, if done correctly, has great impact in drawing customers into a store.” 

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