Mercator Centre Maribor is located in a densely populated part of Maribor, which distinguishes it from typical suburban retail centres. The large centre is therefore more open, has several entrances, oriented not only to visitors who come by car but also to pedestrians. Entrances are typologically accentuated and stand out from the neutral sheath. They lead into interior malls and squares, creating an urban experience of a real city.
With the uncontrolled versatility of visual impulses from the shops left and right we devoted our attention to design of the floor and ceiling, which bring some architectural articulation into the diversified space. The floor is defined by sand-coloured ceramics with a diagonal darker path leading from one side to the other and back. This space is bordered in black, advising that beyond the border we cross into heterogeneous impulses of shops.
Even more expression is introduced in the ceiling, which is transformed from a surface into volume with the use of lighting fixtures, developed especially for the project. Ceiling reflects the dynamic of motion through the forest. Each light is the size of an adult man; the dynamics of drafted paths leads them through the entire building.
Thus, the mall is always full, giving a good sensation to the visitors. This expression was reached in a very empirical way: the inspiration came from the question of how to reduce the use of energy needed to operate the building. The level of light was lowered for 1.80 meters, the size of tubular lights. This reduced the energy necessary for illumination by 20% compared to lights fixed directly to the ceiling. As the centre is surrounded by high rise buildings, its fifth facade – roof – also plays a significant role.
The entire roof is green, providing adjoining residents with the view of a park as well as preventing the effect of heat island. The large amount of HVAC equipment on the roof would normally provide a visual disturbance as well a source of noise; these disturbances are neutralized by enveloping the equipment with large wooden cylinders. Positioned on the green roof, the cylinders function as pavilions freely distributed in the park.
Contrary to general practice in our cultural environment, the client briefed us in advance of the limited construction budget and expectations of low energy consumption. This has turned out to be a challenge of constant search for creative solutions – we prepared projects for building that set new standards regarding investment value and running costs. Sustainable design was not understood as a restriction, but as a source of inspiration.
Photographs: Miran Kambič & Studio Kalamar