Numerous headlines have declared the decline, or death, of the high street and, indeed, many facts would seem to support this point of view. 2019 was the worse year on record for British retail. High Street sales fell for the first time in 24 years with 12% of stores now standing empty. In the United States there are about 1,200 shopping malls with one-third of them already failing.
Originally the high street and shopping mall was the centre of activity and social life for many people. With technological and social changes, we are shopping and interacting differently. Our current generation is the most informed and diverse in history, actively seeking out new experiences. High Streets and shopping malls cannot remain a collection of independent outlets that make up a whole, they must become contributing factors that create an experience for the consumer.
I photographed the Mall of Egypt in Cairo for the architects CallisonRTKL and operated by the Majid Al Futtaim Group. Last year CallisonRTKL topped the “Visual Merchandising and Store Design” ranking for the third year in a row. The 280,000-SM Mall of Egypt offers a dynamic mix of activities connected by a series of indoor and outdoor public spaces that respond to the region’s climate and lifestyle.
Located in Cairo’s modern 6th of October district, the retail and entertainment destination is designed to LEED Silver standards and is intended to foster a family-centred sense of community. The two-level centre includes a hypermarket, global flagship retail, a range of dining options, and exceptional entertainment venues including a cinema complex, the first indoor snow park in Africa and Magic Planet entertainment. The centre’s master plan is divided into three themed zones, each designed to complement the other and integrate with the overall 6th of October city master plan: Zone 1 or “The City” is arranged in a series of streets lined with retail and family-friendly public spaces. Zone 2 or “The Desert Valley” has an elegant interior, housing the centre’s upscale department stores, international retailers, and a central courtyard for music and cultural events. Zone 3 or “The Crystal” is characterised by its dynamic lighting and is the mall’s destination for leisure and entertainment.
The Mall of Egypt has been designed as a consumer engagement space with a sense of community created out of the entertainment, experiences, and services which are offered. It is no longer a place for retailers to push out product offerings into a mass market but somewhere which has a pull-marketing approach orchestrated around the needs and interests of an increasingly diverse consumer market, segmented by age, ethnicity and locality.
To succeed in the future the industry will always have to think like the customers it serves. The high street and shopping centre have to create a platform where people engage with brands to facilitate sales in an environment that is conducive to their requirements. There won’t be a “one size fits all” design concept but there will be certain elements that will transcend different shopping centres. Entertainment and the experience will be a key factor along with the dining facilities.
Specifically designed mini cities where people live, and work is one concept foreseen as the future of the mall. These would also feed into the appetite of the increase of consumer tourism of places to visit and shop. What we can foresee is that where we shop in the future will not look like the traditional high street as we know it. It will be an entirely new retail experience—one that will change throughout the year and even throughout the day to keep people coming back for new, fresh experiences. These advancements will affect developers, consumers, retail brands and designers, from the smallest neighbourhood to the most impressive Class-A regional shopping centre. The future of retail is ever-changing and ever evolving and it’s up to developers, retailers and designers to pinpoint what fads will fade and what trends will cement themselves and flourish into the future.
Behind the scenes
Photographing any project abroad has a number of challenges. I always work with the architect / designer and the building management team.
There are three important elements to photographing this sort of project. The first is understanding and appreciating the design of the project through talking with the architect and drawing up a shot list of spaces and features to be captured. After establishing a shot list, we agree on how long the shoot will take and start organising a suitable date agreeable to all parties involved. It is always best to photograph any space as soon as possible to showcase the project and avoid any wear and tear. However, too early after its completion and you may not have all the units filled and subsequently less people visiting. There are also additional considerations of local public holidays or unique events to consider. It definitely pays to speak with the building’s management team.
The third element is the logistics of photographing such a project and working in a different country. There is the obvious consideration of what essential equipment I need to take, where to stay local to the project, visas, weather etc. Then there are the unforeseen challenges that you have to work with, such as equipment failure and illness.
When I first landed in Cairo I had organised being picked up and taken to my hotel. The driver explained how I needed to pay for my visa in either Euros or dollars. I had neither so had to negotiate a local currency rate. On learning that I was a photographer he asked me how much equipment I had and whether I had more than one camera. I always travel within a whisker of the weight allowance with as many bags as permitted. These will contain some extra clothing and a toothbrush but 99% is equipment! My driver proceeded to tell me that of the last two people he had attempted to pick up with film and stills cameras one had been detained for five hours and then allowed to proceed without his equipment and the other had been turned away. Lucky for me we were just waved through.
I have been shortlisted for the prestigious British Photography Awards in two categories, to be announced at a glitzy black tie event on the 4th of February at the Savoy in London.
The BPA run an open, responsible competition aimed at celebrating photographic talent from all British and British-based photographers. They work with a range of UK charities to operate a non-profit competition cashflow and they keep this completely ring-fenced from the rest of the business finance. This is integral to their model. Together they aim to use the massive power of photography to do real good in the world.
Both my pictures are in support of “Surfers Against Sewage” which is a marine conservation charity working with communities to protect oceans, beaches and marine life.
The awards accept a broad range of work from different disciplines and from all over the world. It is independently judged by some of the most respected names in British photography.
My photograph of the “Boy from the crowd” for “International Alert” in Liberia, featured on 2 lists of the “best published photos of 2019”. There is an incredible set of 50 photographs in each compilation with photos ranging from Greta Thunberg to the International Space Station in front of the sun.
“My Modern Met” was formed in May, 2008 to create a place that celebrates creativity by showcasing the best sides of humanity – from the light-hearted and fun to the thought-provoking and enlightening.
New Atlas has been celebrating innovation and human endeavour since their launch in March 2002. It is now one of the world’s largest Independent science and technology publications that report on extraordinary ideas and human achievements that are moving the world forward.
Congratulations to all the photographers and especially to the Siena International Photography Awards for the number of their prize-winning photos that were featured in the list.
In 2003 DelAgua Health along with the University of Colorado and the Rwanda Ministry of Health embarked on an ambitious project to distribute water filters and fuel-efficient cooking stoves across the country. The program monitored the use of the water filters and cook stoves with the data being used in a health impact study conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Emory University. Between 2014 and 2016 the program reached nearly 2 million people with cookstoves and 500,000 with water filters in 7,500 villages. Nearly a thousand community health workers visited every household on a repeated basis to provide behaviour change messaging, training, and repairs.
In June 2019 the PLoS Med published the results. It was found that the water filters and portable biomass-burning cookstoves reduced the prevalence of reported diarrhea and acute respiratory infection in children under 5 years old by 29% and 25%, respectively. The results suggest that programmatic delivery of household water filters and improved cookstoves can provide a scalable interim solution for rural populations that lack access to safe drinking water and rely on traditional fires for cooking.
“Until now, there has been limited evidence of the effects when these products are delivered at scale,” said Evan Thomas, director of CU Boulder’s Mortenson Center for Global Engineering. “The study demonstrates the viability of bringing water filters and cookstoves to vulnerable households and will help inform future national initiatives.”
Unsafe drinking water and household air pollution are major causes of mortality around the world. An estimated 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, more than a third of whom rely primarily on open wells and untreated surface water that can be contaminated with human and animal feces.
Cooking indoors on traditional open-fire stoves with solid biomass fuels such as wood and charcoal has been linked with pneumonia, low birth weight and impaired development in children. Household air pollution is also associated with pulmonary and cardiovascular disease in adults. More than 80% of Rwandans rely on firewood as their primary fuel source.
“After neonatal disorders, pneumonia and diarrheal disease are the two leading killers of children under 5 years of age in Rwanda and much of sub-Saharan Africa,” said Professor Thomas Clasen of Emory University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who led the health impact study.
“The results of this randomized controlled trial provide strong evidence that effective interventions can be successfully delivered and embraced by a population at risk, even in remote rural settings.”
In the fall of 2014, over 101,000 households with nearly half a million people from the poorest economic quartile of Rwanda’s Western Province were selected to receive a Vestergaard Frandsen LifeStraw Family 2.0 table-top household water filter and an EcoZoom Dura high efficiency portable wood-burning cookstove together with community and household education and behavior change messaging. Each household was visited approximately every 4 months for a year following the distribution.
The program was financed and led by the social enterprise DelAgua Health (in partnership with the Rwanda Ministry of Health) and branded “Tubeho Neza,” which translates to “live well” in Kinyarwanda.
“DelAgua is delighted that the study has confirmed some of the health benefits of a well-designed large scale intervention as well as the acknowledged reduction in carbon emissions,” said DelAgua Chairman Neil McDougall. “Key to this success has been the ongoing education and support of Rwandan Community Health Workers (CHWs). Without CHW involvement, the intervention would not have demonstrated the same health and other benefits and as such their involvement is integral to the success of this and similar future projects,”
Overall, the results suggest that the program was effective in improving drinking water quality, and reducing risk of diarrhea and respiratory illness among children under 5, pointing the way toward an interim solution for healthier living while cleaner cooking solutions are developed and scaled to reach the poorest.
"The intent was to address the leading causes of illness and death in Rwanda, respiratory disease and diarrhea, especially among the lowest income households," said co-author Dr. Jean de Dieu Ngirabega, who was the director general of Clinical and Health Services in Rwanda Ministry of Health and later the head of the Institute of HIV/AIDS, Disease Prevention and Control in Rwanda Biomedical Center during the course of the program.
"The program's success speaks in part to the hard work of our Community Health Workers, who trained households on the use of these technologies over several years. I am pleased that these results show these positive health benefits can be achieved at scale. It is an opportunity for low-income countries to meet the targets set out in Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG3) for health."
“These results should have important policy implications in Rwanda and beyond. We see strong evidence that the intervention provides significant benefits that might continue to accrue if the program continues to be supported,” said Thomas, an associate professor in the College of Engineering and Applied Science who designed and managed this program for DelAgua from 2012 through 2016.
I documented the project capturing every aspect from issues that were set out to be solved, to the distribution days and community health workers visits. I photographed in a number of different regions and villages to show the extent of the program. I collaborated with DelAgua Health and the Rwandan Ministry of Health to present a powerful set of images which showed the work undertaken. The work has been exhibited around the world, formed a book and won several international photography competitions including being nominated for the Sony World Photography Awards.
See full report article at - University of Colorado
For more information about DelAgua Health go to - DelAgua