Paseo la Fe Invites Nature Inside

Tue, 11/01/2016 - 14:12

With a drive to draw more millennials into shopping centers, architects and developers are changing their outlooks on what is necessary for a mall’s success. Industry trends are flowing toward mixed-use developments as a way to use shopping centers as more than just a place to shop. This is leading to the use of more flexible and innovative formats in mall designs. The Paseo La Fe shopping center in Nuevo Leon encompasses these values through its focus on natural light and flora. It is bringing the outside inside.

The center’s developer, Altea Desarrollos, wants to provide an environment that allows the shopper to feel the freedom of shopping outdoors without the potential of volatile weather dampening the experience. As a result, the company chose to use ethylene-tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) instead of glass to construct the arched transparent ceilings. ETFE is a thermoplastic fluoropolymer that has a high resistance to corrosion and over a wide temperature range, making it the ideal roofing solution. The material has been used internationally, most notably in the art project “The Water Cube” at the National Aquatics Center during the Beijing Olympics.

ETFE is essentially a transparent plastic that makes a favorable alternative to glass due to its unique properties, among them its light weight. The material weighs 100 times less than glass of the same dimensions, allows more light to flow and is easier to clean. ETFE has a high resistance to ultraviolet rays and unlike other plastics does not discolor with exposure to sunlight. Its high durability and resistance to chemicals, mechanical pressure and temperature change are just some of the properties that convinced Altea Desarrollos to choose the plastic for Paseo La Fe. Another built-in safety measure is that ETFE is combustible but not flammable and can support temperatures up to 170°C.

The Paseo La Fe shopping center is designed in a dome shape along curved beams that bisect the length of the structure’s internal corridor. The ETFE’s light weight means that fewer supporting structures need to be used, allowing larger transparent panels that let the natural light stream through to the interior corridor. The design incorporates green areas, water fountains, terrace areas and social areas, which further emphasize the strength of the natural light, providing a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of a traditional shopping center. The facility is mixed-use and will include family meeting areas, a bowling alley, a roller-skating rink and a play area for kids.