There’s a new kid on Saigon’s commercial real estate block and the newcomer is turning heads. OfficeHaus, a modernist marvel opening in Saigon’s ‘green lung’ in late 2021, hopes to revolutionize the way the city works. A handsome Bauhaus-inspired 7-storey building located within Celadon City, OfficeHaus has residential zones, the country's largest Aeon Shopping Mall and Tan Son Nhat International Airport all within easy reach. Formed for function and built to be affordable, it offers a LEED-certified, human-scale alternative outside of the downtown core.
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A distinctly American invention, the shopping mall started its march on the planet in the 1950s when the first enclosed shopping center opened in Edina, Minnesota. (Incidentally, this was also the decade that saw the arrival of credit cards to the scene.) The concept proved popular. Particularly in the sweltering Middle East and tropical Asia, where shoppers quickly developed a taste for trying on the latest fashions in air-conditioned comfort.
Victor Gruen, the original mall’s “founding father”, envisioned a place for urbanites to gather, shop, and relax. Being of European origin, he wanted to recreate the walkability of the modernist European cities with their mixture of commerce, dining, and daily life on American soil. In short, his vision was of a pedestrian-centered, mixed-use development for the modern-day city.
The malls of Asia
Today, some of the world’s biggest and most impressive malls can be found in Asia. While in the US, frittering the weekend away in a megamall has fallen out of fashion, the metropolises of Asia don’t seem to get enough of its modern comforts and thrills. In the sprawling cities of Southeast Asia where people tend to live in close quarters and prefer to socialize in public spaces, the allure of the shopping mall is understandable.
From high-end fashion and fine dining to cinemas, gyms, and bowling alleys, these mega hubs anchor whole districts and attract tourists as much as they entertain the locals. Where Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates dazzled the world with an indoor ski slope complete with an alpine-style cafe serving hot chocolate, Kinokuniya in Ngee Ann City, one of Singapore’s upmarket shopping centers, attracts more than 2 million visitors every year being Singapore’s largest bookstore.
Developers cater to all tastes: bowling alleys, indoor playgrounds, gyms, beauty centers, cinemas – a modern mall is a one-stop lifestyle entertainment centre-cum-event-space. And to retain their edge in the era of online retailing, shopping giants need to be ever more creative.
Vietnam’s mall managers, for their part, are dab-hands at turning their venues into Christmas Wonderlands and Tet Cornucopias with lavish seasonal decorations that serve as themed backdrops for many a photo session.
Japanese heart - Vietnamese smile
At 70,000 m2, Saigon’s very own megamall, Aeon Shopping Mall Tan Phu Celadon is one of the country’s largest. Attracting over 1.5 million visitors a year, this megamall is nestled in the heart of the city’s “green lung”. It serves the residents of Celadon City who appreciate the convenience offered by its vast collection of supermarkets and restaurants, as well as a world-class cinema and an amusement park. Weekend shoppers flock to Aeon Shopping Mall from other districts looking for deals on premium cosmetics, fashion, and home appliances.
Founded by a Japanese conglomerate, the shopping mall opened in 2014 as Vietnam’s first integrated shopping center. After a recently completed extension, the number of stores went up from 120 to nearly 200. Some areas are completely new: #OOTD youth fashion section, high-end dining and popular brands such as The Pizza Company, Hoang Yen Hotpot, Marukame Udon, among others.
Celadon City residents and workers, including those who will call OfficeHaus “home” when it opens next year, will no doubt welcome such a variety of F&B options on their doorstep. With over 60 different food and drink outlets at Aeon Shopping Mall, OfficeHaus users can have an exciting new lunch experience every day of the month.
Known as a “super retailer” operating in Japan and the region for over 250 years, Aeon Group prides itself in bringing Japan’s family-like, incredibly polished customer service to every country it operates in. They care about the community too. In Vietnam, Aeon’s CSR efforts include such projects as the Tree Planting Program for environmental activities, Sustainable Education For Youth Project, and Scholarship Program for education of the next generation.
Le mall sportif
In 2020, Aeon Mall Tan Phu Celadon joined the global health movement spurred on by the pandemic with the launch of its “Sportive Mall” movement. As consumers are becoming more health-conscious, Aeon meets them halfway and provides inspiration for lifestyle changes such as being more active and choosing healthy snacks.
Shoppers can start with stocking up on stylish sportswear at Decathlon, Nike, Adidas, Skechers, Reebok, Lining, New Balance, Crocs, Anta or MaxxSport, before hitting the treadmills and the boxing ring at California Fitness & Yoga AEON Mall Tan Phu that boasts a fully equipped UFC gym.
But for the average customer, merely covering the 70,000 square meters of Aeon Shopping Mall Tan Phu Celadon on foot is enough of a workout. Those who want further lifestyle tips and a prod in the right direction can ask the Sportive team at the mall for ways to “exercise while shopping”.
Thanks to this focus on wellness and health, local residents and OfficeHaus tenants will have an additional source of motivation within walking distance. From nipping out for a quick cup of coffee at the mall to taking a constitutional walk after lunch at one of Aeon Shopping Mall Tan Phu Celadon’s many excellent restaurants, they will never run out of reasons to remain active.
Admittedly, positioning a shopping mall as “green” is a tough sell. After all, construction, fashion, and food retail industries are all among the top polluters. But try one must. The mall has introduced a “demand controller” thermostat system to reduce energy use during peak hours. It monitors equipment and does not allow energy-use to exceed pre-set levels.
But perhaps Aeon Shopping Mall’s biggest claim to fame is its ability to serve as the focal point of the community providing a space for local engagement – a place for more than just shopping.