A recent post on the IPM Blog has highlighted the importance of urban green space in the time of epidemics (see http://blog.placemanagement.org/2020/04/11/the-importance-of-urban-green-in-times-of-epidemics/#more-2509), in terms of their beneficial effects on the well-being of those city-dwellers able to access them. Indeed, in the UK, there have been media reports bemoaning the fact that so many people have sought such benefits (especially during sunny weather), that the government’s recommended social distancing protocols have not been observed because of the sheer number of people occupying these spaces. In such situations, perhaps we have to find alternative, ‘new’ greenspaces?
In my last post on this blog (see http://blog.placemanagement.org/2020/04/10/look-around-you-exploring-your-locality-during-lockdown/#more-2495), I suggested that during the current pandemic, we need to ‘look around’, and explore more extensively the locales in which we live. In doing so, I’ve certainly found new green spaces that I didn’t know existed close to where we live. More recently, in our local explorations, we’ve investigated another green space that we knew existed only a few hundred metres from our house, but had never ventured on before – namely, the local golf course.
The most recent posts on the IPM blog have rightly addressed the implications of – and possible responses to – the current situation that we all face with regard to Covid-19. It is the fundamental issue of our present time. Indeed, the pandemic impacts upon us all, not least with the lockdowns imposed in most countries. These have involved more or less draconian measures, aimed at curtailing our freedom of movement in order to restrict the spread of the virus. Here in the UK, the Government’s ‘Stay Home’ instruction states that one period of exercise each day is allowed, as long as it is near to a person’s home; indeed, there have been numerous instances of media-shaming of those travelling to tourist districts in order to get their daily exercise quota.
What are the implications of these constraints for individuals and the places in which they live? If our horizons are (at least temporarily) limited, then perhaps we have to try to seek enchantment nearer to home, rather than travelling considerable distances to the usual tourist and other outdoor leisure destinations. So, as a result, let’s explore where we actually live instead.
Parts of many town and city centres have almost begun to
resemble docklands in the sense that shipping containers – sometimes singly,
sometimes stacked in different permutations – have appeared in urban space. By
transplanting these metal boxes into a different context their use has changed
– from shipping to, primarily, shopping.
This repurposing has led to a neologism – ‘cargotecture’ – to describe
the resulting architectural adaptations into shopping venues (and in many
cases, peoples’ homes). It is one manifestation of a broader concept of ‘container
urbanism’, where repurposed shipping containers become, among other things,
part of broader place-making initiatives.
“This standardisation enables a far greater flexibility, both in its original use, through incorporation into intermodal supply chains, and also through adaptive architectural re-use.”
Using shipping containers in this way is explained in part
by their flexibility and design. In one way, their design is standardised and
inflexible – Martin describes the shipping container very simply as a ‘box’ for
transporting stuff: “its size, shape and form were agreed upon, made standard,
and applied on a near universal basis”.
However, this standardisation – now widely captured in the baseline
‘twenty-foot equivalent’ (or TEU) shipping container – enables a far greater
flexibility, both in its original use, through incorporation into intermodal
supply chains (being equally part of road-based and sea-borne transportation), and
also through adaptive architectural re-use.
Indeed, a search through Google Images reveals the ingenuity and effort
expended in modifying these structures to create new spaces in which to live
An arcade is “a glass covered passageway which connects two
busy streets and is lined on both sides with shops”. First developed in Paris in the late
eighteenth century, arcades were a key element of the European retail and urban
environment by the mid-nineteenth century. They were regarded as symbols of
modernity and vitality because of their innovative use of architectural design,
building materials and techniques, and they contributed to a wider process of
civic boosterism of the Victorian city.
However, according to MacKeith, by the start of the twentieth century, the
arcade’s heyday was already passing, with those constructed in the early
twentieth century being smaller and less architecturally ambitious than their
nineteenth century predecessors, and furthermore, arcades were often
marginalised in new post-war shopping development schemes.
Urban stakeholders are increasingly realising the importance
of collective action in attempts to ‘future proof’ town and city centres, to
ensure that ‘their’ centre retains an important role in the economic and social
life of associated communities. Such
collective actions, often implemented under the aegis of urban management
partnerships (UMPs), raise some key questions for these organisations: what
type(s) of collective interventions are the most effective; and how to create
sufficient support for them?
In 2017-18, a research project, led by the Amsterdam
University of Applied Sciences and funded by Shopping Tomorrow (a Dutch retail and e-commerce think-tank), which
comprised an expert group containing a number of IPM researchers and members,
tried to answer these questions.
Specifically, the research – which analysed a variety of different types
of interventions in 21 towns and cities across the Netherlands, Belgium and the
UK – sought to identify and illustrate the factors that underpin successful
collective interventions aimed at ’future-proofing’ town and city centres.
‘Pop-up’ is an increasingly important aspect of current retail activity, and indeed, it has been argued that the boundaries between pop-up and the more traditional retailing found in fixed store formats is becoming increasingly blurred. Whilst it can essentially be defined in terms of its temporary and ephemeral nature, pop-up retailing can also provide a very effective experiential in-store environment facilitating consumer-brand engagement, and also promote a brand or product line, to create a ‘buzz’ (all of which, it is hoped, conveys a sense of urgency to stimulate consumers’ behaviour). Indeed, the use of pop-up can be motivated by marketing communication imperatives as much as by actually making sales – although, of course, pop-up shops (although not necessarily termed as such) have long been used for selling goods where demand is very seasonal (e.g. Halloween, Christmas), making the occupation of permanent premises uneconomic. Continue reading “Why place managers should know about pop-up retailing”→
The year that just ended was full of new and exciting academic publications, saw the reprint of some old classics, but was also the time for us to simply go through the books that had been piling on our desks for a while. Here are our top 10 reads of 2017:
Prof Gary Warnaby
“This year, I’ve been really interested in some of the temporal issues related to the use of urban space, so for me the two books published this year that I’ve been going back to again and again are: Continue reading “Our academic books of 2017”→
On June 24th this year Dominic Medway wrote on his Twitter feed: “@PlaceManagement Places are ultimately made, unmade, defined and redefined by people before institutions. We’ve seen that today”. This was of course referring to the result of the so-called ‘Brexit’ referendum on whether the United Kingdom should leave the EU. The pollsters and the City of London seemed reasonably confident that the outcome of the vote, on June 23rd 2016, would be to ‘remain’, but it seemed both these institutional bodies hugely underestimated the power of the voters to exercise their democratic right to chart an alternative future. Continue reading “The experts are dead: Long live the experts.”→