LSE Cities have summarised some of Thomas Heatherwick’s recent comments in their latest Urban Age debate on the future of retail:
We need to understand how people feel when they move around a place. What an enormous gap there is for emotion in function-led place making. I always found it funny that in the world of architecture the most prestigious commission was a museum, because it represented culture. Yet streets are where people engage in public life. Shopping has become a way we see each other.
My practice is working on a 1970s shopping mall in Nottingham at the moment. Councils thought shopping was what people wanted, but it pushed all the other life out. Half of the centre has been demolished and, but we want to preserve the rest so that we can mine the existing structure, avoid wasting more carbon, and breathe life back into it.
Given the high business rates for shopping spaces, we need to find a way to apply tax fairly online and offline, because at the moment the real world is penalised. Whether we realise it or not, we’re hungry to see each other, and we need government to support that impulse.