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Profile photo of Mattias Kärrholm

Mattias Kärrholm


Profile photo of Mattias Kärrholm

To the Rhythm of Shopping: On Rhythmic and Territorial Stabilisations of Public Space in Urban Retail Environments


  • Mattias Kärrholm

Summary, in English

This article deals with the impact of certain retail strategies on urban life. More specifically it deals with two recent tendencies of the retail environment: (a) spatial homogenisation and clustering of retail into large areas or territories, and (b) the synchronisations of retail with different kinds of public activities and events.

For the last decades, retail areas have tended to grow larger and more legible, whereas a lot of stores in residential areas have been forced to close. The stores of the city centre tend to concentrate to certain streets or pedestrian precincts. However, in addition to this we have the seemingly contradictive tendency of retail deterritorialization and spreading, in order to make use of public places, such as railways stations, bus stations, museums, libraries, etc. In this article, I use Malmö as an example. Malmö has been quite successful (in a Swedish context) during the last decade, with an increasing number of customers and stores. Here, we do not just have the territorialization and consolidation of (for example) the centre as a shopping district, but also retailers that try to organize and in different ways synchronize commercial rhythms with important urban rhythms and mobilities of everyday life. These two trends of territorialization and synchronisation both feed and counteract each other in different ways.

The article makes use of Lefebvre’s rhythmanalysis as well as a territorial analysis (Kärrholm, 2004, 2005) in an effort of first identifying and defining these current trends of the retail environment (in Malmö). I then go on to focus mainly on the neglected but influential aspect of synchronization in order to discuss some of the ways in which affect territorial production and public life, i.e. supporting certain urban rhythms, uses and identities while undermining others.


  • Department of Architecture and Built Environment

Publishing year




Document type

Conference paper


  • Building Technologies


  • urban design
  • rhythms
  • retail
  • architectural theory
  • shopping
  • public space

Conference name

6th European Urban and Regional Studies Conference

Conference date


Conference place

Roskilde, Denmark




  • Territories of Consumptions - design and territorial control in urban commercial spaces

Research group

  • Department of Architecture & Built Environment