The Guest Pen column features articles on interesting and current themes written by guest contributors from different industries.

For a boy who was born in Espoo and grew up in a rural area next to fields, visiting central Helsinki was always a great adventure. There were high buildings, fancy display windows and shops full of exciting products.

I longed to live in a real city. When my uncle told me a shopping centre was being built in Tapiola, I could hardly wait for it to be completed. The project had an inspiring motto: “Everything we can buy on Aleksanterinkatu, we can also find in Tapiola.”

Completed in 1968, Heikintori was Finland’s first shopping centre. In its heyday, it was such a big attraction that our whole family went there together once a week.

The next time I was excited by a grand opening was when Itäkeskus was completed in 1984. I had recently passed my driving test, so I went for a drive with my girlfriend to see this new wonder, like the world’s largest cruise ship on dry land.

Now that online stores are seriously challenging traditional bricks and mortar retailers, there are questions about the future of shopping centres. When you can order anything you want online and have it delivered to your home or office, what do we need shopping centres for?

According to shopping centre guru Bruce Shaw, people will still want to go out for entertainment, excitement and enjoyment. A shopping centre can only be successful in the future if it becomes a social magnet.

Shaw, who was a member of the design team for Westfield London, believes that, in the future, more and more people will dine, work and spend time at shopping centres.

City centres, in particular, will draw people in. Depending on the size, location and strategy of the shopping centre, the significance of pampering services, entertainment, gourmet dining and wellness services will grow.

Danish futurist and shopping centre expert Jesper Bo Jensenhas outlined 10 rising trends in shopping centres: relaxation, eating, drinking, wellness services, entertainment, public services, events, rotating seasonal shops, seasonal themes, and an atmosphere that changes according to the time of day. The atmospheric lighting, music and digital marketing services of shopping centres will also be the subject of increased attention. Soon, the flows of people in shopping centres can be channelled to sales as efficiently as in online retailing.

These development areas will see shopping centres revitalised, fresher than ever before.

This issue’s Guest Pen is Marco Mäkinen, Vice President, TBWA Helsinki.