Westfield Stratford City is a suburban salient pushing old-fashioned, low-density development towards the centre of London. This kind of land-use, that accommodates and promotes motor-dependence, is not what we want.
You must have noticed that many categories of solid shop – book-shops, record-shops – are almost obsolete. Virtual shopping does have drawbacks. Here’s the queue to collect undelivered parcels at Emma Street post-office two weeks before Christmas 2011…
…and it was another forty minutes from the door to the counter. You can tell this a genuine cross-section of Hackney and Bethnal Green folk as it includes…
- …man/boy sporting a cycle crash-hat/running shoe combination
- …very ugly dog
Westfield features a number of big shops selling small things. Why do you need a cavernous gallery to sell watches or mobile phones? The future of shopping is souks crammed with kiosks where the person behind the counter picks out the item you ask for with a long pair of reaching tongs.
The overheads are low and customers can walk to a dozen different stores in the distance from the door to the till and back of an over-designed Westfield boutique.
Westfield Stratford may be all wrong but even it’s dreary, privatised, faux streets betray clear signs of a new reality.
“The MINI store, which will be open for 12 months only, showcases the two newest MINI models, the MINI Coupé and the MINI Countryman and also sells a full range of MINI lifestyle merchandise.”
What would Henry Ford or Juan Manuel Fangio say about that?
Once cars were useful tools, that allowed doctors to visit sick people, isolated farmers to get to market, to church or a dance on Saturday night. In 1914 it was already cheaper to run a small car than a pony and trap. Now they’re fantasy items hung on shop fronts to sell over-priced plimsolls and handbags with too much branding.
If you’re walking from Stratford Station to the Olympic Park watch out for this pretentious and threatening landmark…
If you don’t want to know the answer look away now.