Marc Augé famously suggested that airports are non-places because they are too transient to have an identity. Other non-places include highways, hotel rooms, and waiting rooms. Augé used the idea of the non-place to describe the dislocations and standardizations that characterize super modernity.
Of note, our shopping mall cities, Shenzhen for example, offer few concrete (literally!) objects that have particular and recognizably distinct identities. At the MixC in Luohu and coastal City in Nanshan, for example, we see the same mix of chain stores, domestic and international arranged in a space that is more luxurious than the Rockaway mall of my teenage years, but in essence no different. The comparison, chez Shenzhen is with an imagined countryside and the urbanized villages. In other words, supermodern shopping malls are a place holder in the search for something better, but not interesting in and of themselves.
Today, I am in Hong Kong international airport and have noticed a few replicas of preserved buildings. Such is the anonymity of the super modern city that we even become nostalgic for colonial architecture — smaller and distinct from the airport, which dwarfs these toylike memories of a quaint accessible, familiar and endearing city that never was.