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Sunday, August 9, 2020

The Retrofuturistic Virra Mall of the 70s

When we think of malls in the Philippines, the usual names that pop into our minds are the SM Aura, Greenbelt, or SM Mall of Asia. These are the malls that are very common to our ears and are the usual go-to places of millennials today.

Virra Mall
Image: NoliSoli

With the rise of several malls in our country, often differing in architectural styles and feels, it is but natural to wonder what exactly did malls looked like before. Were the structures of the buildings then similar to what we have today? What were the popular outlets back then? What were the in-demand services? Most of all, how did these malls look?

While the styles of the malls back then were not entirely different and new to the eyes of mallgoers today, one particular mall in the Metro arguably stood out from the rest. We know San Juan City’s Greenhills Shopping District today to be one of the popular hotspots for shopping affordable clothes and interesting finds. The Shopping District now houses several shopping malls including Promenade Greenhills as well as the seasoned Shoppesville.

Virra Mall
Image: Redditor: u/antoniocampagnolo

One of the first establishments in the Shopping Center was Virra Mall. The name sounds unfamiliar? For shopping citizens of today, they may know Virra Mall now as the V Mall. Back in the 1970s, Virra Mall was one of the trendiest and hippest places to be, with people from nearby places flocking to get good deals particularly on purchases for their hobbies.

Although different malls were housed in Greenhill’s shopping complex, the interior of Virra Mall back then is what separated it from the other malls. The interior of the mall was very futuristic and the architecture of the building was way ahead of its time with Architect José María Zaragoza as its designer. Maybe it is even better than most of the malls today. The outside has a unique shape, and on the inside, the elevators and escalators were just magnificent.

If we’re going to compare the elevators between Virra Malls’ and today’s malls, the elevator on Virra Mall is just innovative. The design is very futuristic, even during its time. Ever watched the film Back to the Future? Virra Mall had the same feel to it. When using the mall’s elevator or escalator, you can’t help but think that you are in fact entering another dimension.

Retrofuturism - this is what the style and architecture of Virra Mall back then was all about. Retrofuturism is basically a creative style wherein people of the past and present envision what it is like to be in the future. It is the perfect mix of that nostalgic retro vibes coupled with the use of futuristic technology as the people back then envision what the future holds.

Virra Mall
Image: Pinterest-Philippines

The shopping mall housed a lot of tenants. The usual products were very affordable. There were also a lot of fast-food chains mallgoers could choose from. However, when Greenhills District Center renewed its lease in 2002, many malls were not able to continue their lease. It was initially planned that they would down the remaining malls due to the rise of malls in Metro Manila, but they decided against it.

Unfortunately, the Virra Mall that was built in 1975 was demolished. The mall was reopened up in the latter half of 2005 and was renamed as V Mall. It is a shame that the architecture of the new mall is not the same as before, still, looking back at the old Virra Mall surely brings back priceless sentimental memories from the 70s.

Submitted by: Mic Villamayor 

At 27, Mic is staying young and keeping it real. A Mass Communication degree holder from the University of the Philippines, a graduate of San Beda College of Law, and a newly-minted lawyer, she aspires to work with her dad in their law office one day. In her daydreams, she always finds herself traveling the world and frolicking out in the sun. But reality comes up to her and she finds herself reading and writing for her future

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