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March 12, 2010



Interesting stuff. Loft living is not going to be a common feature of stratford anyway with the newbuild flats around the park. I can't imagine an edgy mall!


It's so true, and not just of shopping malls - our world is now hyper-real. It won't be long until someone builds Brent Cross Land, an "authentic shopping mall experience", harking back to the good old days of the birth of the consumerist dream.

I was meaning to de-lurk in response to your last post, I used to come to your pub quiz back when I lived along the road. I miss Dalston, and the Scolt Head was a good pub. Hope it's a successful night!

Lucy Johnson

Hallo Will-tis your ex student- I read your comments today in the guardian and thought I'd have a little peruse of your blog! As I live in Spitalfields I found it interesting and thought provoking though I am not sure that I am of accord with everything that you say...


I feel partly responsible for this - I did some urbanist consulting for Westfield a year or so ago and vaguely remember us recommending some of these ideas in a moment of desperation. We'd just discovered that the site would be separated from Stratford town centre by a quasi-medieval moat - a gigantic architectural Freudian slip, I suspect.

The anti-mall design creates an ersatz town centre next to the real one. The problem is that the design sends out all the cues of public space, but is actually private space (with security guards acting like police - but not actually police).

I worry that Westfield will try to manage out all the liveliness, mess, mix and edge of a real town centre - along with sections of the local community. Anna Minton's book Ground Control has some excellent examples of this - including mall managers describing how they 'inject vitality' at regular intervals.

It'll be interesting to see if the developers accept the logic of what they're building and manage it accordingly - if it looks like a city street, people will use it that way. Let's hope putting Tracey Emin in charge of culture is a small step in the right direction ...

Will Davies

I love the idea of 'injecting vitality'. It sounds reminiscent of how nightclubs have had to 'inject smell' to make up for the lack of cigarette smoke, that traditionally hid the smell of stale beer and ravers' farts.

How long can it be before a certain multi-millionaire anonymous grafiti stencil-artist gets in on the act? I picture him, becowled, alongside Beckham and Seb Coe at the 2012 opening ceremony...

Graham Jeffery

Absolutely bang on. It's an enormous parody of gentrification, eating itself. Extraordinary, yet, as you say, just taking the logic of the spectacle to the next level... I'm pretty certain that the rent levels will exclude any genuinely 'independent' businesses though - the real question is what will become of the original stratford town centre in the face of this? Perhaps just a giant car park cum poundstore? Strange days.

Graham Jeffery

Another thought, I suppose, is that one can't really describe Stratford as 'the suburbs' - yet. One of the narratives about Newham is that for the last thrity years at least it's been a borough with inner-city characteristics, but on the cusp of inner/outer London. A liminal space in many ways and somewhere where lots of possible urban futures were/are being envisaged and tested out. But perhaps all of this development marks a phase in the suburbanization of Newham - making it more acceptable and palatable as a 'destination'. I dunno - I fled from Newham in the face of 2012 and all that, having poured much energy and effort into the place, a few years ago, but my sense is that this marks a transformation on even bigger a scale than the Canary Wharf estate's insertion into the Isle of Dogs, with all the attendant contradictions and fissures. Post 2012 though, it's not immediately obvious where all the money will come from to keep the megamall going.

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