>enough to relate.
>a very romanticized stereotypical view of Europe, all the major european cities are flooded with malls
Let's define mall then, at least what i consider a mall, which is what the austrian architect Victor Gruen (considered the father of the mall center concept) designed in his stay on the US around the 40's and 50's.
A mall of his, the american/international-style mall center, is a couple of department stores with roofed corridors between them which also have smaller places, usually from several types like stand-off (type c or just a footprint for the rental man to design), "small" type a for small items or food stand inside a hole thing, and "medium" type b for more items or bigger things. These corridors usually find themselves in a center or several of them to link up the entire thing, these corridors are placed as cloisters as in walkways on the side with a view to a broad center area which is either an open space for the stand off joints or a garden or seats or what have you. Imagine a two level cloistered garden with tons of entries to businesses spaces rather than windows.
This is not the only thing, due to jewi- i mean globali- international! due the international style of doing things and focusing on the individual automobile as the measuring unit of transport rather than anything else like a walking person or small train/bus the other factor to design was the place to park your ride, which means the parking lot is as integral to the concept than the interior, the complex has to have chunks of parking in the same proportions on each side of the main entries which usually also have the big department store buildings very near them and being a big part of the facade, these businesses usually called anchors in this context due to their importance; these by time also needed special entry spaces like gardens to provide visual or seating leisure and the parking lots also needed said gardens to surround them for the same reason, and by time again these parking gardens due to their cool factor also had stand out businesses like restaurants or big item stores which in turn also needed parking lots which in turn again also needed a garden to surround them. See what i mean? and i haven't even touched the food court aspect of it yet.
What Europe has is certainly malls at times but said american concept is relatively new (late 80's, early 90's and only in the really big cities, the rest had old archetypes or market plaza) but most of their old school stuff is their own definition, for example in England there were the actual arcades, which were small streets filled with merchants or market stands which after a while decided to be closed/roofed and made fancy, the temporary building materials were replaced with sturdier stuff and sometimes they ended up being arcs+columns, which ended in a linear street filled with arcs supporting a roofed structure aka an Arcade. An arcade is usually a former narrow street in the middle of other streets and only has 2 entries, 3 if unorthodox or 4 if it is a south-north and east-west conjunction that was closed, their access is by walking only and the parking space is very usually the sides of the streets were you accessed them, if it is very fancy then you have a valet to a nearby lot used as parking.
In Italy, due to their superior engineering and overall being much fancier and visual-focused, they went for the open gallery (or simply called Galleria) archetype, which is closed up market buildings (or merchant's fancy places) with the streets being floored with fancy shit and the roofing being made out of structures to support skylines or cool designs. These places were usually either a well-to-do conjunction of streets used by cool vendors that had the thing closed down to get status and modify them at will or extremely fancy projects which also had a couple of existing previous buildings inside, like the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Parking space applies same if not at all due to them being inside giant plaza centers usually filled with pedestrian space. The trick between a Galleria and an Arcade, or at least what i was told, if that a Galleria is made to be that while an Arcade is an evolution, an adjustment of previous forms which were most usually the streets of a market center (thus the easiest way to add a structure for roofing was adding arc+columns every certain distance) and
both don't have a central view, the arcade is two sided while the galleria at most will have very broad ways or junction areas working as centers.
Then you have the japs/asians, in the former name the archetype is practically its own thing but rarely explored in western bibliography, i've been to 3 (jap-designed or jap-owned) and they share the same characteristics like the white square tiling, skylines either in ribbon form or complete skylines (somewhat rare) the low height overall, lack of central view to something (similar to the arcade aka two sided) and the really closed down feeling due to a combination of said factors.
These usually are long corridors that end in a small square that serves as a mini center/garden and then make you go to another corridor that either gets you to another small square center or to an exit/entry space. They also change the levels just to fuck around using the corridors as a very long ramp or by putting something strange around like a bridge or a mezzanine.
Imagine a supermarket corridor between shelves but considerably wider, colourful storefronts rather than shelves and the ceiling much lower yet all the light colouring tiling and finishing materials for easy cleaning are there, the slightly industrial feeling with some touches of fanciness but with some touches of spatial play and fanciness like a wooden walkway carrying you to another area of the complex or some flashy garden to make you turn right or left rather than walk forward.
And i am not going to touch Strip Malls which is another thing by itself, let alone the aforementioned Super Market thing or the old Market Plaza which is as old as civilizations that had enough manpower to make permanent buildings and what Europe mostly has but in a much modernized or well-cared form like .
Still, by these definitions i only meant the American/Gruen(baum) way, the mall center thingy, which sounds dumb on paper as they all function the same but walking them is very different, i can tell you people know damn well what a mall is compared to a closed street arcade when walking and shopping them despite being the same businesses inside. So with these said i can finally end by saying these mall centers weren't here until very recently but we certainly had several market plazas, two arcades and big ass department stores, but never a bunch of department stores unified by roofed broad walkways that had a center and junctions among them, plus with shitload of air conditioning units pumping in cool atmosphere to make it 15 to 20 degrees celsius lower than outside.
If you put a mall center in a medium sized eastern europe city i can guarantee you it will be used every weekend, both the novelty and the different experience of it all is intriguing as it serves multiple purposes (leisure walk/windowlicking, shopping for both basic necesities/luxury, hanging out free of charge with buddis and spending low on snacks and entertainment). That americans charge tons of money for rental space, cheapen out of making the place uncomfortable "to scare the old people/mall goths away from hanging out too long" and overall because going to one is a long ride and implication they have to walk
considerably to their store rather than just going to a giant parking lot with stores conveniently on the sides so you can just drive park and walk into the store directly (aka the strip mall concept) is what "killed" the mall center.
I didn't want to write "americans killed the mall because they were lazy fucks" but well, there you go, it wasn't near the only factor due to shipping costs lowering/being easier to order and youths hanging on da intrawebz rather than outside among themselves but to be fair malls in the US have been reported to be suffering from problems since the early 00's so we can somewhat blame it on laziness/being weary to walk 100 meters inside + 200 outside in the lot to get a cinnabun or a pair of shoes.