Monday, 21 April 2008

Interesting Urban Spaces ? The Faux Village Mall.

This caught my eye in the Winnipeg Free Press:

Village-style retail mecca planned; Open-air project set for arena site
Winnipeg Free Press Apr. 16 2008
Winnipeg shoppers may soon get a taste of the kind of open-air, village-styled shopping centres that are becoming all the rage in other parts of North America.

On my recent trip to the U.S. I came across a couple of these “villages” back to back in San Marcos - a city half way between Austin and SA.

I guess what I found interesting is that there IS demand for walkable, easy to navigate spaces with “town centres.” Instead of revitalizing or incorporating that into their cities they use it as a template for shopping centres.

This seems to be a particular problem for 'Interstate towns'. There there are 1000’s of them and they've all morphed over the decades into being 15 km long and 500m wide on each side of the roadway. Driving into the older areas of these town, many of them underused or abandoned, you see how the Interstate completely changed how these cities developed.

I was doing work in the Yukon. The big tourist draw was Anchorage Alaska, a city which had torn down most of its old buildings and then rebuilt new ones to look old. A few minutes over the border there’s Carcross, YK which has the real thing: century old saloons with swinging doors, old livery stables, ancient housing stock and the remnants of a roadhouse just outside the town. These were the 'real McCoy' but attracted few tourists !

Funny that we will recreate what we want to have rather than working towards preserving or maintaining the real thing.

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