MALL OF SCANDINAVIA, STOCKHOLM 109 PROJECT
Having stepped out of their cars, they are guided
by luminous wall elements and light walls to the
automatic glass door entrances leading into the mall.
Here, wooden materials create a feeling of warmth
and clearly differentiate indoors from outdoors.
The lighting plays its part in creating a comfortable,
None of the entrances to the mall is what you would
call mundane. Approaching on foot from the nearby
station, for example, visitors walk below a mirror
finish canopy as stunning during the day as it is at
night when it fills with reflected golden light. In case
there is any confusion, a giant M beside the entrance
makes everything clear.
The mall is built around four nodes, each represented
by one of the four elements of earth, wind, water
and fire. In the water node, the blue shimmer of the
water feature is indirectly reflected in the ceiling. The
lighting is bright, rippling and shining on the flowing
streams. The spacious wind node is flooded with
natural light pouring in through a skylight in the high
white ceiling, its twisting, spiralling form accented by
In the earth node, visitors walk under a leaf canopy in
an indoor forest, all muted browns. Only the fire node
fails to live up to its billing; no dramatic flares of yellow
or red, just the brilliance and sparkle of the designers’
gallery created by naked spotlights, with pop-up shops
and a lively ambience appealing to the young and the
chic in search of excitement.
With such dramatic lighting effects there was a danger
that the lighting would distract from the shops.
The designers kept the general lighting down to
300lux rather than the 500 initially recommended in
order to let individual shops express their individuality
Mall of Scandinavia is based on a Nordic design
aesthetic, so real wood or stone replaces laminates
wherever possible. The lighting design complements
these natural materials and strives for a nuanced,
changeable effect, avoiding uniformity. In keeping
with this, daylight is introduced wherever possible.
Across the four nodes, daylight is shielded or diffused
as appropriate. Where daylight cannot be used, rather
than attempt to fake it, the lighting is joyously artificial
with strong colours.
Throughout the mall, open lines of sight have been
preserved but straight lines have been avoided to
banish monotony. Gently undulating organic shapes
run along passages where light replaces signage as
a means of navigation. In a pleasing touch, a ‘black
transition’ runs along the join between wall and
ceiling, emphasising the movement of the architectural
body and symbolising the close cooperation between
lighting designers and architects.
Mall of Scandinavia has galvanised the world of
retail design, its sensational lighting playing its part
in snagging the attention of customers, retailers and
media alike. But is it really the shape of malls to come?
Does it signal a new age of lighting-oriented design?
Or will it remain an isolated phenomenon, more
tourist landmark than retail template? Either way, it’s
going to be a tough act to follow.
‘The lighting design complements
the natural materials and strives for
a nuanced, changeable effect’
Opposite: Where daylight cannot
be used at the mall, there has
been no attempt to fake it –
electric light is joyously artificial
Below: Metal panels and opal
Plexiglas create bright colours
and playful shapes for motorists
entering the parking area
Overleaf: The finished effect in
the mall car park