What is a wet dream of every consumer, a wet dream of our shopping-obsessed society? I want everything, at the lowest prices, right here, right now! Yeah…  (Note – the quality is usually not mentioned).

So WalMart provides an ultimate answer to such frantic over-consumerism of ours. “Satisfaction guaranteed”. WalMart is a sacred shrine for average Joes, a final destination for large-screen TV watchers and burger-eaters (they got McDonald’s there too). It’s an apotheosis of stupidity and bad taste of the modern society.

Anyway… those are social issues. Let’s leave it to the politicians or journalists. What about the architecture? What is the architectural language of those universal megastores located all over the world? Being shrines of a new powerful religion of consumerism, cult places of mass-production those stores suppose to be impressive, imaginatively decorated, exciting, different, outstanding and grandiose. Don’t you think so?

Well. It’s not. In fact there is no architecture at all in those shops. See, architecture is not an abstract exterior envelope, which can be applied to anything; but rather an objective reflection deeply related to the spiritual content happening inside peoples’ mind. That’s why any religious structure is always something unique and beautiful, be that breathtaking gothic cathedral or a small church in a God forsaken place… But here’s a trick: God does not forsake his children easily – that’s why any shrine is always a real architecture. And any idolatry is not. IT IS A WALMARCHITECTURE.

No need for many words. The images speak for themselves. What’s common between Chile and Canada, China and Mexico, US and Argentina, India and Brazil? WALMARCHITECTURE.

WalMart, USA

WalMart, India

WalMart, China

WalMart, Chile

WalMart, Canada

WalMart, Argentina

WalMart, Mexico

WalMart, Brasil

I know it’s boring as hell. Sorry for forcing you to scroll down through all thоse Walmarts.

But the best is saved for the end… This is WalMart’s Learning Center in Amritsar, India. Truly inspiring.

10 Responses to “WalMarchitecture”
  1. Gerry says:

    Walmarchitecture really lifted my spirits. To see the beautiful shapes of these shrines of consumption is enough to make me… cry myself to sleep every night.

  2. Christiane says:

    I like the way you write about these themes… and the pic of the training centre is very indicative for the whole Walmart-Philosophy.
    The fact is that not all are aware that “architecture is not an abstract exterior envelope, which can be applied to anything; but rather an objective reflection deeply related to the spiritual content happening inside peoples’ mind”… we have so many negative examples, even from well-known archi-stars…. And there is another fact I often think about – are you sure that in everybody’s mind there is spiritual content? Sorry for this kind of black humor…

  3. Crimson Cass says:

    This is not architecture, but perhaps it’s semiotics. Everything about these buildings transmits the message of “cheap”. The message that we are supposed to internalize, is that for a building to appear to have been thought about, (gasp) *designed*, well, then, it must be expensive, and then it must not be a building for me, because I certainly don’t want to pay inflated prices for a fancy building.

    It really saddens me, this poverty of spirit that has taken over our world. “Beauty is expensive. Expensive is not for me, it’s for those intellectuals I’m suspicious and afraid of.”

  4. Anonymous says:

    The pic of Walmart India is not real. India has not yet opened its gates for Walmart in retail sector. The last one is real though. I think they train/educate farmers on new techniques

    • Albert says:

      “Amritsar: India’s Bharti group & Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, opened their first joint venture store in the city on Saturday on an investment of million. They also plan to open at least 15 outlets across the country in the next three years.” May 30, 2009 IBN Live

  5. Ryan Griffin says:

    The reason churches are over-designed is to produce awe and wonder, which puts you in the mood to buy into a worthless religious doctrine. Wal-Mart has a utilitarian approach because you don’t need to be psychologically manipulated to believe in low prices.

    • Albert says:

      Modern churches are not over-designed at all. Architects rather take a very minimalistic approach.
      As for the “manipulations” that companies like Walmart are involved it… I think you underestimate it greatly 🙂 “Consumerism” is a very serious religion and must be fueled massively. (I am a radical agnostic, by the way)

  6. Ryan Griffin says:

    I worked for Wal~Mart distribution center for several years while in college and noticed no more “manipulations” than any other (large or small) corporation utilizes. I was paid well and received similar benefits to employees at other large retailers’ distribution centers. Wal-Mart is doing nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to large-scale retailing. I don’t advocate everything they do but if you want to pick up the pitchforks against consumerism, lets go after luxury cars, high-fashion, and luxury housing first.

    As for modern churches being bastions of minimalism…I beg to differ

    • Albert says:

      Nothing personal against Walmart. It’s just a symbol for a “large-scale retail” as you’ve mentioned it… Luxury cars, high-fashion – this is not exactly mass-consumerism I’m talking about. Not that I justify it, but it’s another religion. Religion for rich folks. I was talking about “religion for the masses” created by the rich. Both “religions” are equally hideous to me. I hate over-decorated estates just as much as I despise poorly designed Walmart stores…

      • Ryan Griffin says:

        It’s cool, I know where you’re coming from. It just seems like consumerism is more likely driven by customers with materialistic motivations or product-manufacturers who drive sales by slightly modifying the styles and functions of items. Manufacturers, especially of cars, use these slight modifications to help consumers notice that their product is no longer the latest and greatest, even though the functionality/quality is the essentially the same as the older version. Similarly, retailers use expensive lighting, finishes, and displays to entice customers to spend more for items that offer little more utility/quality than cheaper alternatives. I disagree with your assertion that Wal~Mart’s stores are poorly designed. They may not be aesthetically pleasing to some people but I suppose that would be a fairly subjective thing to argue. It seems to me there is more to design than aesthetics. Function, utility, and initial/recurring costs also have a role in the design of retail stores.

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