Thursday, 19 July 2012

Malls Without Walls

Anna Minton’s 2009 book ”Ground Control: Fear And Happiness In The Twenty First Century City” analyses how public and civic spaces are being privatised, sanitized and made safe for shopping in cities across Britain, from Liverpool One to Westfield Stratford. Her writing seems even more timely as the Olympic brandfest draws near. 2012 and all that. When Marc Auge described “non-places” he was referring to locations like malls, airports and conference centres – but as Minton shows, non places are now invading the core of British cities. Minton says, “these places are everywhere but feel like they're nowhere in particular, devoid of local culture and history and the distinctiveness that brings. Instead they try very hard to import their own culture and vitality, but it doesn't work, creating fake, themed environments where everything is controlled and far from unplanned and spontaneous.” Brighton and Hove has, so far, managed to escape the worst of these malls without walls, but even here, the chain stores seem to be gradually taking over. Of course, you don’t have to shop in them….

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