They Reek of Tropical Charms

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The megamall comes to Brazil and Colombia:

Friday night and the weekend has begun in Rio de Janeiro. Behind the antique counter of his botequim, a traditional Portuguese tavern, the bartender is hastily shoving glasses under the polished beer tap. Bossa nova music cranks up in the background, the band raising the volume to compete with the growing hubbub of an after-work crowd. The music and laughter waft outside to a colonial-era street, replete with pastel facades, elaborate wrought-iron balconies and the dewy aroma of palm trees.

It's a near-perfect vision of old Rio de Janeiro, from the period buildings to the controlled climate and evocative scents in the air. The street, Rua do Rio, is in fact a covered promenade in the centre of the Nova America shopping mall. Its award-winning allure lies in the repackaging of classic Brazilian atmosphere…In a neighbourhood known for drugs, crime and violent death, Rua do Rio (built in 2002) is one of few safe havens at night, making it an instant draw for the mall. Designcorp's concept was to recapture the charm of yesterday's Rio in a controlled environment.

Peter Bagge visited some less exotic malls here. I look at the utopian dreams of one mall-builder here. A gallery of dead malls is here.

NEXT: Rah Rah (Yawn) Rah

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  1. Misery waits in shopping malls

  2. recapture the charm of yesterday’s Rio in a controlled environment.

    Kind of like the “recaptured charm” you see in the “Main Streets” of places like Disneyland and Las Vegas. Yecch.

  3. Why don’t they spend some of that money on trying to fix some of the problems that make Rio (and pretty much all the rest of Brasil) the miserable hellhole that it is? “A neighbourhood known for drugs, crime and violent death” isn’t going to be fixed by some detached-from-reality oasis for the rich.

  4. The Southpoint Mall in Durham tries to make itself look like Durham of the 1930s. Then there are other shopping areas like “Brightleaf Square” which play on Durham’s tobacco past without trying to be too obvious about it.

  5. Why don’t they spend some of that money on trying to fix some of the problems that make Rio (and pretty much all the rest of Brasil) the miserable hellhole that it is?

    You might as well ask why America hasn’t done the same thing.

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