Rethinking Retail

We are all aware of the long and steady decline of the High Street and with internet shopping fitting so seamlessly into our ever-busier lives, we each have a part to play in the retail swan song. But it does not necessarily mean that our city centres should become ‘ghost towns’. On the contrary, now we have an opportunity to recreate our city centres and fill them with something more meaningful than retail outlets.

It is time that we were more creative with our cities to ensure that they remain vibrant public spaces, drawing people in with thoughtful, creative solutions. The visionary urban planners of Tainan City in Taiwan have done just that. A firm of Dutch architects won their competition to repurpose a redundant shopping mall near the harbour in this congested city, reinventing it as a water park or ‘urban lagoon’.

Rather than demolishing the entire site, the buildings have been ‘deconstructed’ and remodelled to provide an outdoor area for play and relaxation. The scheme includes a grass park area; the excellent acoustics of the site have lent themselves to concerts, both planned and impromptu, being performed in the open; and of course there are refreshment stalls and a tea house benefitting from a steady trade. You can read more about this innovative project and other ‘greening’ projects
planned for this forward-thinking city here. Isn’t it time we began to re-think our own cities and plan for their brighter future?

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