How a ‘dead mall’ in Taiwan was transformed into a public water park, complete with its own paddling pool

  • Dutch architecture firm MVRDV turned a disused shopping centre into an urban lagoon called Tainan Spring, using its old concrete foundations
  • If the coronavirus pandemic accelerates the ‘retail apocalypse’, malls made redundant will be ripe for creative resurrection

South China Morning Post
Date: 23 May, 2020
By: Christopher DeWolf

It’s a term that has become familiar to many people around the world: “dead malls”. As online shopping picks up speed and the global retail landscape is transformed, a growing number of shopping centres are being sucked of life and energy. The novel coronavirus pandemic may only accelerate the trend.

So many of these malls sit abandoned in the United States that business analysts have described the situation as a “retail apocalypse”. In March, photojournalist Seph Lawless published a book, Abandoned Malls of America, that documents his visits to more than 200 dead malls.

But in Taiwan, one such mall has found new life as something entirely different. Designed by Dutch architecture firm MVRDV, Tainan Spring turned an old shopping centre into a public water park that makes creative use of the mall’s concrete foundations.

The China-Town Mall was built atop an old fishing harbour next to the Tainan Canal in 1983. “It drained the vitality of downtown Tainan for decades,” says MVRDV founder Winy Maas. “I envisioned [the water park] as a way to review and recycle an architectural mistake.”

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