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White City shopping centre is no advance

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Regarding your article, 'Standing the conventional shopping centre on its head' (aj 7.1.99): how, exactly?

Popular (architectural) perception states that shopping centres are A Bad Thing while town centres are A Good Thing. While I do not wish to argue why this perception should prevail nor whether it is actually correct, I would ask a number of questions of the proposed White City scheme if, as it is suggested, it represents any advance on shopping-centre design hitherto (and suggest some answers).

Will there be an economically sustainable mix of uses? (No: retail, restaurants, cinema are all just leisure uses. Where are employment or residential uses?)

Will there be an unaccountable security force, prone to evicting citizens deemed unsuitable to enter? (Probably)

Will there be any potential for real change/development over time? (No: not in the urban sense of being able to replace a shop with an office, or an office with a park)

Will there be a perception of a sterile, artificial, monofunctional environment? (Probably)

It seems to me that dogshit, dereliction and drunks have as much to do with the sense of some kind of ongoing civilisation perceived in town centres as do good public transport and Marks & Spencers. Until all can be incorporated, the shopping centre will remain a dinosaur which sucks the life out of surrounding urban centres.


London NW1

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