What will happen to our high streets in the age of internet shopping? How can we make our towns and cities lively, economically viable and interesting places to be?
As retail architects, aLL Design approaches projects that tackle multiple problems, viewing them as opportunities to effect change and encourage engagement and participation. A store, restaurant or shopping centre can animate a part of town yet with a trend towards more isolated occupations – cooking at home, shopping online and ‘staycations’, we understand that a different approach is required. What if a shopping centre offered something else – a place where children and adults could ‘play’ or learn something new; an apartment building with an art gallery on the ground floor, hotel suites amongst the treetops or elevated to fill gaps between existing buildings. How do we lure people into their communities, away from soulless out-of-town retail parks and towards a more sustainable enriching future?
We have been masterplanning different ways to occupy space for many years, our plan for Manchester’s Great Northern Warehouse, preserves an historic building and introduces a traditional marketplace with local craftspeople selling their products and produce to their neighbours. We introduce landscaping and richly planted gardens, allotments and waterways where they are least expected. We made a beach in Battersea at TESTBED1, designed a monorail with jellybean carriages for a shopping mall in Kenya and planned a subterranean hydroponic farm below a music school and hotel in Paris. We have also created a learning and visitor centre for new technology, complete with a zoo.