February 06, 2010

"New Southampton looks much the same as New Everywhere Else"

I was just going to add this link to my delicious stream, but I wanted to pull just that bit too much in the way of quotes out of it, and so figured a blog post was more suitable.

In From the Mill to the Mall, Owen Hatherley provides a lovely essay on lots of the problems with the retail park and shopping mall architecture and planning of the modern city. It's nominally about Southampton, but I was pointed to it by someone spotting the similarities with Birmingham, and obviously I can draw the comparisons with Liverpool (even down to the hugely busy but invisible container port and the civic architectural legacy from the White Star and Cunard lines)

"Jobs For Local People are no doubt the eventual result, and the alibi for the extremely profitable land deals. The result is a city devoid of any real civic pride, with a series of chain pubs where shops used to be, competing for cheap pints."

"(Southampton is lucky enough to have only one 'Quarter', though a Cultural Quarter has been promised for some time)" Indeed. Liverpool isn't so lucky, we have the Knowledge Quarter, which seems to overlap quite a lot with the Georgian Quarter, and in the centre of town is the Met Quarter (although maybe the council isn't responsible for that, as it's basically a shopping mall... At least the redevelopment around the Baltic Fleet pub is the Baltic Triangle.

At least our big city-centre shopping temple, Liverpool One, does a reasonable job of interfacing to the surrounding city - its walkways are covered rather than enclosed, so there's plenty of natural light and some exposure to the elements; there's some variety in the architectural styles; and the preservation (or recreation) of the original street pattern gives it some ebb and flow with the existing city. It's still a big shopping mall, full of chains that could be anywhere else and has privatised a huge chunk of the city centre, but it's in the centre and about as well done as you could hope for.

Anyway, my ranting aside, it's a good read.


Posted by Adrian at February 6, 2010 11:30 AM | TrackBack

This blog post is on the personal blog of Adrian McEwen. If you want to explore the site a bit further, it might be worth having a look at the most recent entries or look through the archives or categories over on the left.

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