Carl Gardner has lifted the lid on the new designer buildings that have sprung up across the country. He describes their interiors as sophisticated and spectacular, with glass atria, glazed barrel-vaults, polished steel, mirrored walls and marble floors. They often have "drawbridges" spanning the central openings, and glass elevators to each floor providing an excellent opportunity to admire the surroundings. The environment is controlled by huge heating systems and air conditioning to provide the perfect place to be all year round.
At first glance you could mistakenly think that a glut of swish hotels would soon be coming to a town near you, but what he was actually describing was the huge investment being put into, and huge profits being gained from, the publics new leisure activity. Shopping, and the need to be seen shopping, is now more popular as a leisure activity than either holidays or television.
Money invested in the new found pleasure of shopping is quickly spent.
Between 1980 and 1987 retail space has increased by 50%, and even long established companies like Debenhams and BHS have been caught up in the designer shopping trend. These two became the first in a long line to employ famous designers such as Ralph Halpern and Terence Conran and helped the failing British design business declare huge rises in profit. The estimated value of such businesses has climbed to around ÃÂ£1.7 billion and this is surely allied to the increase in graphics and interior design used in the building of these new centres. These companies employ hundreds and have a multi-million pound turn-over, but the question looming is whether this can be sustained.
Gardner uses "Trade Winds" (South East Economic Development strategy document) co-written by Ken Worpole to offer up some argument against this type of centre, only...