The ‘mall maker’ Victor Gruen is well known as the architect who played a dominant role in the design and global proliferation of the shopping mall. While many recent publications already highlighted and re-evaluated the architectural importance of Gruen’s shopping center, the urban ideal/utopian projects proposed by Gruen have not been considered in depth thus far. Gruen mixed his design principles for shopping centers with ecological interpretations, proposing the Cellular Metropolis as a new urban utopia. This paper aims to shed light on Gruen’s urban ideas, from his critical idea of the ecological-commercial realm to the study of radical commercial hybridizations, which are still relevant lessons for the design of our socio-spatial contemporary condition. In particular, the article focuses on the case study of Louvain-la-Neuve to ground such ideas into a real site.
Keywords: Victor Gruen; cellular metropolis; Louvainla- Neuve