Showing posts with label retail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label retail. Show all posts

26 March 2010

Co-create London: showing EnterPride with disused shops

I wrote last week about Co-Create London, a project using "co-creation" methods from advertising & market research to explore what people want to see happen in London - What would you do to make London a better place?.

After a discussion forum last week, the initial results are out. Of dozens of ideas initially suggested by users on Co-Create London, the following three were developed into more comprehensive proposals:

  1. BeSpoke Lanes – Cycle Paths running alongside railway lines
  2. Enterpride – Turning disused properties & spaces into accessible cultural & retail hubs
  3. Swap Stories – A Book Swap System for London Underground

I understand these ideas will soon be presented for voting online, and the one receiving the most votes will be presented to Our Dear Leader Mr Johnson. More news as it comes…

Books, cycling and marginal urban spaces – could they have chosen three topics much closer to my heart?** I was talking about the latter last week with reference to existing projects such as Spacemakers’ Brixton Indoor Market, and it looks like Co-Create London has come up with something pretty similar:

London is full of disused and run-down spaces especially post-recession. Why not allow these spaces to be occupied by start-up businesses, artists, creative individuals and educational workshops?
Enterpride will facilitate the transaction between landlords willing to volunteer their property & Londoners wanting to use the space. Those occupying vacant spaces will have access to the property until they can afford to rent it, or an established business is willing to pay for the space. If users of the Enterpride scheme have their current space bought by an established company they will be assigned a new one. The only cost Enterpride occupants will have to pay are the business rates which are minimal.

The diagram from the co-creation session:

As mentioned, Spacemakers and other groups have laid a lot of the groundwork already, and already know how to build the necessary relationships with councils and landlords.

But of course that’s a massive opportunity if the Co-Create London team are willing to contact these other projects and get them involved too. A group response based on both the public voting & cocreation and the real, practical experience of already doing this could be a really strong pitch. Perhaps contributors to suggested this idea unawares of parallel developments like Spacemakers, but co-creation isn’t about ‘pure’ ideas or ownership or authorship, or anything so 20th century! I think it’s about mashing up every source of ideas and knowledge available, and in this case there’s a wealth of existing work out there.

I really hope the Co-Creation Hub are serious about making things happen, not just testing their methodology. (Fancy sharing who the “London experts” at last week’s seminar were, by the way?) Go on @cocreatelondon, say hello to @spacemkrs… Though I hope you're ahead of me and already fast friends!

** Actually yes: writing stories on the walls of abandoned urban spaces, although I can see how they might prefer to present more practical possibilities to the mayor…

12 November 2009

Still life with uncollected post & the lights left on

Last night's walk provided an apt case study for recent ideas about empty properties (see here and here) - albeit in a commercial rather than residential building. This shop, once Shoe Studio, sits - of all places - on Covent Garden itself, on the corner with James Street heading up to the tube. In terms of raw footfall, this site is surely as busy as Oxford Street. Yet, like much of Oxford Street, its landlord seems to have been struggling to attract quality retailers; the no-brand Shoe Studio went into administration in March 2009, and the shop has sat empty for eight months.

They left but failed to turn off the lights - with such irresponsibility is it any wonder the store failed? But, oh, what an aesthetic abandonment. The surfaces are so white and smooth yet the glass in the windows is dirtying slightly under the carbonate trails of the rain. Stripped of any saleable merchandise there is only the rectilinear calm of the shelving and its backlit glow into the night.

Are there ghosts here? Covent Garden has quite the history but this space is too antiseptic; without occupants you might call the shop disembodied but yet it never had a soul to lose. There's a sign on the windows promising 'new collection' but the doors are chained shut.

Related comment from Retail Week: Covent Garden's landlord has plans for rejuvenation (June 2009):

Many of the problems with the market stem from Covent Garden’s mass of smaller streets surrounding the main piazza and the dozens of landlords that have claimed a stake in the area since 1913 when the main estate was first sold off by the Duke of Bedford. Because there have been so many parties involved the retail offer has grown up relatively untamed, with a wide range of shops now occupying the streets.

Three years ago, Capco bought the Covent Garden Estate from Scottish Widows for £421m. Since then it has expanded its reach in the area to the point that the landlord now controls 750,000 sq ft of land around the market – which is most of Covent Garden. It is this huge dominance of the area, lacking since 1913, that gives Capco the opportunity to finally improve the offer. It has the luxury of being able to take a unified approach to planning the retail.