Learning from Experience: Evaluating Sustainable and Spatial Characteristics of the Architecture of Shopping Malls

Project: Projects from Previous Employment

Project Details


This research advocates the integration of research into undergraduate architectural education by arguing for the exposure of students to primary source materials that enable them to get as close as possible to the realities being studied. It introduces a framework within which an impressionistic approach for evaluating the built environment through experiential learning can be incorporated. It argues for exposing students to primary source materials and for educating them about the production of knowledge. The research conceptualizes and implemented an approach for learning from Qatari architecture by conducting a procedural evaluation of four mall buildings identified to examine a total of ten spatial and sustainable design factors of the architecture of shopping malls. Such a framework is conceived a walking tour technique where students conduct their evaluations based on a scoring system and checklists. Checklists are phrased in the form of questions underlying each factor. The process includes the use of notes, sketches, notation diagrams, and verbal descriptions. Numerical scores are assigned to the questions to represent the degree of appropriateness underlying each factor using a five point scale method. Scores are averaged and an overall score for the building is then computed. Research team: Ashraf Salama (Principal Investigator); Student Researchers: Baraa Al-Nesf , Reem Hasson and Hanan Al-Ramahi.

Key findings

Findings indicate different degrees of successes and failures in the mall buildings examined. At the learning level findings show that students were able to make judgments about the built environment and to give reasons for those judgments. Discussions throughout the research process reveal that this approach helped them recognize what to look for in the building, understand relationships between different design factors, while comprehending the impact of one factor over others. Based on these results the need for incorporating evaluation research through experiential learning into architectural pedagogy is emphasized as an underlying paradigm of architecture.
Effective start/end date1/12/071/12/08


  • experiential learning
  • sustainable design
  • spatial qualities
  • architecture
  • post occupancy evaluation


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