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‘PlaceMaking’, Unmaking and Remaking of Coventry City Centre What does ‘sense of place’ really mean for Coventry city centre and how might it be defined in its re-making? -AbstractThis essay examines values of ‘sense of place’ in Coventry city centre in the context of its history of architectural re-invention, from the post-war re-construction, to new regeneration proposals. It asks what ‘sense of place’ might really mean for Coventry and how it might be re-defined in its renewal. Part 1 assesses the Jerde Partnership’s recent attempt at ‘placemaking,’ in the city centre, exploring how post-war planning critiques, subsequent ‘regeneration’ culture and discourse around it have influenced their approach. It analyses how key concepts in Jerde’s theory of ‘placemaking’ are described and reflected in the architecture proposed. Key oversights and contradictions of this ‘placemaking’ approach are highlighted and alternative sources of ‘sense of place,’ through detailed study of the city, are proposed to define a more genuine and sustainable identity for the city. Part 2 discusses alternative takes on ‘placemaking’ in planning strategies within Coventry and elsewhere, and possible strategies for revival of the city centre based on the enhancement of Coventry’s existing and developing economies and character.

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-Introduction-

Coventry’s Identity Crisis With vacancy rates in Coventry’s ageing post-war centre and shopping precincts increasing, Coventry City Council decided to act on the poor image of the city, and in 2008 commissioned US-based ‘PlaceMaking’ urban planning and architecture partnership, Jerde, to produce a masterplan for the redevelopment of the entire shopping precinct of Coventry city centre, ‘to re-establish Coventry as a dynamic, world-class city.’1 Coventry presents a prime example of a post-war, post-industrial city in the midst of an identity crisis. Although the city has a long history of crafts, production and application to new trades, the 1940 Blitz, followed by fairly ruthless tabula rasa post-war planning swept away the majority of the city’s built heritage. The 1940s city planners and architects envisioned a modern, efficient, and well-ordered city for the ‘age of the motorcar’, to become an attractive regional shopping and business centre for the West Midlands.2 The latter half of the twentieth century has re-built the city centre as an island of pedestrianised precincts, high-rise office blocks and multi-storey car parks, collared by a hefty concrete ring road of flyovers and underpasses. As one of the remaining strongholds of the UK car industry in the 80s and 90s, the last of the factories finally closed in the mid-2000s. The city has continued to evolve however but its focus has shifted towards services and education, with two large universities and several new research institutes and business parks on the peripheries of the city; usurping the city centre as an economical focus. Coventry city centre, along with other UK town centres like it, has been left bereft of its industrial purpose, and its architecture has come to represent all that went wrong with its modernist vision. Several smaller scale attempts have been made at regenerating the centre since the post-war reconstruction, mostly aimed at luring middle-class shoppers back through the creation of ‘high-quality’ retail space. The Jerde scheme shows similar aspirations, but is by far the largest redevelopment scheme planned for Coventry since the 1940s. Despite previous attempts at inserting new identities for the centre, the city maintains its reputation as a drab and dreary post-industrial town past its best. 1 The Jerde Partnership, ‘Coventry City Centre Master Plan Submitted for Endorsement,’ www.jerde.com/ press (accessed 15 April 2013) 2  Donald E. E. Gibson, ‘Plan For the City Centre,’ The Architect and Building News (2 March 1941), pp.1-10

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Part 1:

‘The Jerde Vision’

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Figs 3-4: Views of Coventry city centre masterplan, The Jerde Partnership, 2008

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‘The Jerde Vision’ The images produced of Jerde’s one billion pound masterplan scheme show a glossed and greened version of the city. Almost all trace of the city’s post-war brutalist architecture has been wiped from the polished renderings shown in figures. 3-4. Blue-tinted glass facades rise up to meet cascading roof gardens, whilst colourful crowds cram into glowing pedestrian precincts below, presenting a picture of a spacey ‘futuristic’ city: one that is unrecognizable from the city centre today. As the Jerde Partnership stated in a BBC article in January 2008, ‘The plans would see much of the city centre demolished and rebuilt.’3 International retail architects, Benoy, have also since been employed to build on the Jerde scheme, to develop specific areas of the masterplan and to bring about ‘transformational change to the heart of Coventry’ and ‘re-establish the city as a prime retail destination.’4 Images of the scheme show bustling shopping precincts with glass-clad shop fronts, boasting ‘high quality retailers,’ set around sunny parks and plazas. Although on the surface, the overall image of the city presented in the plans appears to be of a fairly homogenous shopping mall-style of architecture, the motto displayed on Jerde’s website is ‘if you want to learn something about Placemaking, you’ve come to the right place…PlaceMaking since 1977.’5 The idea of ‘placemaking’ is a particularly interesting one in the case of Coventry city centre, which was almost completely re-‘made’ post-war. There have also been several smaller scale attempts at regeneration since, yet throughout its changes the city has managed to hold onto an enduring image as a place of blandness. Although the city at large has had problems with loss of industry and unemployment, it seems to be the city centre’s poor image that has been its biggest problem, rather than any real issues of social deprivation, crime or dereliction. Coventry is seen as bland, ugly and boring. It is Coventry’s perceived dullness, more than anything else, that city planners are perpetually struggling to remedy.

3 The Jerde Partnership, cited in ‘City centre set for billion pound transformation’, Coventry Telegraph, (18 January 2008) 4 Benoy Architects and Coventry City Council, Coventry City Centre Redevelopment Masterplanning presentation, 2012, p. 3 5 The Jerde Partnership, www.jerde.com (accessed 17 March 2013)

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If it is a positive identifiable character or ‘sense of place’ that the city centre is lacking then it is unsurprising that city planners are actively seeking some way to draw out or create one. In an article on the masterplan in the Coventry Evening Telegraph in 2009, the Jerde Partnership said the plans were designed ‘to create a new heart for the city’ and was ‘envisioned to re-establish Coventry as a dynamic, world-class city for the 21st century.’6 In much the same way as the city was re-made and re-invented over 60 years ago, the new masterplan presents us with an exciting vision of a ‘new Coventry,’ with a solid and positive identity as a forward-looking city with aspirations to a better and brighter future. The firm’s website is very clear on their position as ‘PlaceMakers.’ It declares: ‘We make unique place, places that attract millions of people, places that deliver memorable experiences, places that create huge economic and social value.’7 Their projects are listed and referred to exclusively as ‘places’. The concept of ‘placemaking’ in some form or another is evidently at the heart of the firm’s design philosophy. ‘PlaceMaking’ Although the term ‘placemaking’ is widely used to describe an approach to urban design valuing a ‘sense of place’ there appears to be no clear-cut definition of the term. The concept of the importance of a ‘sense of place’ in modern urban planning and regeneration strategies arose out of critique of exactly the kind of post-war planning implemented in Coventry in the 1950s. The idea of the importance of ‘place’ and subsequently of ‘placemaking’ followed the post-war tabula rasa, as an alternative, more community-focused approach to urban planning. Figures such as Jane Jacobs, Kevin Lynch and later William H. Whyte put forward ideas on ‘sense of place’ and community identity, placing importance on social structures and orientation, suggesting planning strategies that focus on the human scale of cities and approach urban planning bottom-up. In The Image of The City, Kevin Lynch emphasises the importance of a singular ‘environmental image’ for a city: ‘A clear and comprehensive image of the entire metropolitan region is a fundamental requirement for

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6 The Jerde Partnership, ‘Coventry City Centre Master Plan Submitted for Endorsement,’ www.jerde.com/ press (accessed 15 April 2013) 7 The Jerde Partnership, www.jerde.com (accessed 17 March 2013)


the future.’8 The quest for a positive comprehensive ‘environmental identity’ for the city also forms the basis of the Jerde proposals. In Jane Jacobs’ influential 1961 work, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Failure of Town Planning, she angles her ‘attack on [post-war] city planning and rebuilding’ from the day-to-day way cities work in the ‘real life’ she encountered on the sidewalks of the ordinary street.9 She addresses issues she observed from the human scale of the modernist planned cities of North America. Issues such as cities designed around the motorcar instead of people, ‘standardized’ architecture, lack of programmatic diversity, wholesale demolition of old neighbourhoods and mass pedestrianisation have all deeply affected the centre of Coventry in the post-war rebuilding of the city and are still very much evident today. Although Jacobs never used the term ‘placemaking,’ the issues she raised and comments she made on modernist urban planning have since evolved to form the foundation of contemporary ideas on the kind of bottomup community-based urban design often referred to as such. More recently, figures such as architect and urban planner Jan Gehl have highlighted the importance of the ‘human dimension’ of cities. In his book, Cities for People, he argues that a natural focus on people in urban design was halted post-1960s planning, and calls for a return to a bottomup, people-focused approach for lively, safe and sustainable cities.10 Many similar values are expressed in the written proposals for the Jerde masterplan. Diversity, identity and sense of place are all addressed in one form or another. It is from these critiques of 20th century planning that concepts of ‘place,’ ‘sense of place,’ ‘placemaking’ and ultimately Jerde’s own ideas and interpretation of these concepts have originated. As well as arising from now widely accepted ideas and theory within disciplines of urban design, the new city masterplan also reacts against physical remnants of the post-war era -in the very literal sense that it proposes demolition of much of the existing post-war architecture and city layout and re-building based on its ‘placemaking’ principles. In this respect Jerde’s masterplan can be seen as a physical and theoretical critique of the post-war re-building of Coventry. For this reason I intend to discuss the architectural designs and 8 Kevin Lynch, Image of The City, (Massachusetts: MIT and Harvard University Press, 1960) pp.118-119 9  Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Failure of Town Planning, (New York: Random House, 1961), p.13 10  Jan Gehl, Cities For People, (Washington: Island Press, 2010) pp.229-240

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conceptual values of the proposed masterplan against the values of postwar planning critique that the scheme expresses. There are six key ‘principles’ of the ‘Jerde vision’ for Coventry displayed on their website, as well as Coventry City Council’s presentation of the plans, three of which focus on the image, identity and future of the city, and three of which focus on pedestrian safety and environmental performance and sustainability. To begin analyse Jerde’s own approach to ‘placemaking’ and expressed values of Coventry’s ‘sense of place,’ I have taken the relevant three of these principles: 1. ‘To build on the existing strength and character of Coventry to ensure that future development reflects the pride of its people’ 2. ‘To create a unique identity and sense of place for Coventry as a hub for the whole West Midlands and Warwickshire district’ 3. ‘To design a flexible framework to adapt and accommodate future demands over the long term development of the City’11

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11   The Jerde Partnership, www.jerde.com/regions/place71.html (accessed 13 April 2013)


1. ‘To build on the existing strength and character of Coventry to ensure that future development reflects the pride of its people’ An interesting paradox lies in Jerde’s reaction against the post-war tabula rasa planning of the city. In one respect, the new masterplan attempts to remedy problems and failures of the city’s design through the demolition of the existing ‘failed’ architecture and re-building with new, presumably improved designs. This, however, immediately becomes a repetition of the tabula rasa attitude -one that is condemned by the principles of attention to the existing and preservation of ‘character’ in Jerde’s own ethos of ‘placemaking’. Whilst a few pockets of pre-war architecture remain, the built ‘character’ of Coventry’s centre derives mostly from the post-war rebuilding of the city. This again is an interesting contradiction. Whilst the scheme aims to build on the ‘existing strength and character’ of the city, ‘to ensure that future development reflects the pride of its people, alongside its unique heritage and history,’12 it proposes wholesale demolition of almost all post-war architecture of the precinct. Presumably then, the ‘character’ of Coventry that Jerde propose to build on is not an architectural one. Through the masterplan, the city council are evidently making a strong statement about the proposed identity for the city and the images produced (shown in figs. 3+4) present Coventry as a futuristic, ‘international’ ‘21st Century’ city. The Jerde website, perhaps tellingly, displays the project as: ‘Location: Coventry, Europe.’13 The ‘character’ that the scheme tries to create here proposes an entirely new identity for the city. Rather than drawing ‘character’ from the existing activity or architecture of the city, the proposals’ ‘character’ and ‘strengths’ appear to be largely drawn from elsewhere: international retailers, international architects and international style, re-inventing Coventry as a contemporary ‘cosmopolitan’ city.

12 Coventry City Council, Coventry City Centre Redevelopment Masterplanning presentation, 2012, p. 3 13  The Jerde Partnership, www.jerde.com/regions/place71.html (accessed 17 March 2013)

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Fig 5: Coventry Planning Office Christmas Card, 1946 ‘Impression of Coventry of the Future’ showing Broadgate Square

Fig 6: Night view of new Coventry Masterplan, The Jerde Partnership, 2008

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A History of Futures The idea of Coventry as a forward thinking place, willing to accept change, does have its roots in history- and perhaps it is this version of Coventry’s ‘character’ that the Jerde scheme tries to draw upon. In a BBC article on the plans from January, 2008, the Leader of Coventry City Council, Ken Taylor said ‘We’re not known as the Phoenix city for nothing; over many years we’ve transformed ourselves to keep up with local and world change, fighting back after the recession to attract new investment and jobs from around the world.’14 Through its numerous changes of trades over the past 800 years and repeated cycle of demolition and re-building, Coventry has generally been a city that has looked to the future for its identity, rather than reflecting on the past. Coventry has in fact been re-inventing itself since medieval times. In his famous 1933 work, An English Journey, J.B. Priestley summarizes the city’s long history of trade: ‘Coventry is one of those towns that have often changed their trades and have had many vicissitudes, but, unlike nearly all the rest, it has managed to come out on top. In the thirteenth century it was making cutlery: in the sixteenth, buttons; in the seventeenth, clocks; in the eighteenth, ribbons; in the nineteenth, sewing machines and bicycles; and now, in the twentieth, motor cars, electrical gadgets, machine tools, and wireless apparatus.’15 Pre-World War II, changes in the city were usually linked with trade and industry but after the Blitz of 1940 the city’s aspirations have been socially and politically driven too. The devastating Luftwaffe air raids of 1940 killed over 700 people, left widespread damage throughout the city and saw a large part of the centre destroyed. The reaction to this catastrophic razing of an entire city overnight was one of symbolic and political significance. This is illustrated in images of the masterplan produced at the time, such as the planning office’s christmas card of 1946, shown in figure 5, which displays similar aspirations to the ‘new Coventry’ produced by Jerde in figure 6.

14 Ken Taylor, cited on jerde.com, (accessed 15 March 2013) 15 J.B. Priestley, An English Journey, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1933) p.57

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Fig 7: Visions of a ‘New Coventry,’ Donald Gibson Architects, The Architect and Building News, 21st March 1941

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Post-War Re-Construction The creation of a ‘new Coventry’ in a modernist era was born out of an attitude of defiance. All evidence of bomb damage was to be ‘erased’, excepting only the old cathedral, left to stand as a memorial to the bombings and it was generally agreed by the city planners and architects that although the bombings had been ‘horribly cruel’, they had conveniently cleared the ‘disordered’ old centre, providing the perfect testing ground to implement a wholesale re-design for their efficient and organised modernist vision,16 displayed in concept images produced by city architect, Donald Gibson in figure 7. A special feature focusing on the redevelopment of Coventry in the 1953 October edition of The Architects’ Journal presents a rather bleak view of the state of the city: ‘The visitor interested in discovering the City’s architectural wealth will not have to search for long- there’s hardly any left of the little it ever had. Nor, on the other hand, is there the fascination- of a kind- of a wealth of Victorian architecture. Architecturally, the City today has no character, save that of the duller type of late-nineteenth and twentieth century suburbia. But the city of tomorrow is quite another story.’17 This description presents an uncomfortably familiar view of Coventry, one that could easily be used to describe the general perception of the city today: a perception that is based largely on the post-war architecture and planning of the city, which the article goes on to describe as ‘excellent’ and ‘a remarkably fine achievement.’18 The post-war planners and city council decided that compulsory purchase orders should be implemented across the city and anything that wasn’t destroyed in the war was later cleared out of the way for ‘the sake of the plan’19 or in slum clearance schemes. Only buildings considered as ‘either historically interesting or recently erected,’ were ‘allowed to remain’20 so very few existing buildings were preserved (illustrated in figure.8). A select few surviving medieval buildings were dismantled and relocated to Spon Street, to the West of the centre, to serve as a museum piece for the city. 16 Rigby Childs and D.A.C.A Boyne (eds), A Survey by Rigby Childs and D.A.C.A Boyne of Coventry, The Architects’ Journal (October 8, 1953) pp.429-432 17 Childs and Boyne, p.429 18 Childs and Boyne, p.447 19 Donald E. E. Gibson, Plan For the City Centre, The Architect and Building News, (21 March 1941), p.1 20 Gibson, p.4

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Fig 8: Plan showing proposed new city plan overlaid on the existing, displaying disregard of previous city layout and architecture (black blocks indicate existing buildings to remain) The Future of Coventry Exhibition booklet pullout, 1945

Fig 9: ‘Slum Property to be cleared...Unsatisfactory living Conditions due to overcrowding and bad layout’, The Future of Coventry Exhibition booklet, 1945

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In an already devastated centre this displays fairly ruthless treatment of the exiting city fabric and almost total rejection of value in preservation of existing architecture. In The Art of Forgetting, Adrian Forty discusses approaches to heritage and memory in post-war modernism: ‘While eighteenth and nineteenth century architecture had valued ‘memory’ highly, one of the most distinctive features of early twentieth-century modernism, not only in architecture but in all visual arts, was to deny ‘memory’ any place, and indeed to negate it altogether.’21 The new Coventry was to provide a clean, healthy and safe environment for the future of the city and its people, not to be tainted by memories or problems of the past. The Jerde scheme, by contrast, claims to value and reflect the city’s ‘unique heritage and history’22 yet evidently no value at all is placed on the post-war ‘heritage’ of the precincts, as it is set for wholesale demolition without question. Ironically, this in fact displays precisely the modernist attitude that shaped the city and architecture that Jerde proposes to demolish. Current attitudes towards post-war architecture in the city very much echo the way in which Victorian architecture was seen in the 1940s. The terraced ‘slums’ that were seen as ‘squalid’ and ‘torturous’ (fig.9) and were subsequently torn down might appear attractively quaint to a contemporary eye. This was much to do with poor sanitary conditions at the time, but remnants of Victorian factory workers’ housing in the city (since re-fitted to modern standards) are now appreciated for their ‘historical value’ and generally considered to be aesthetically pleasing. Several areas where Victorian terraces remain have become the more desirable middleclass neighbourhoods of the city, whilst the areas where they were torn down and modernist housing put up remain the poorer neighbourhoods. The post-war brutalist architecture of the centre, then ‘progressive’ and ‘modern’ is now ‘dated’ and ‘ugly.’ Although the blitz destroyed a large part of the city centre, an article in The Architect and Building News in 1941 described the damage as ‘confined to a relatively small section of the Borough, an area which urgently needed replanning before. So, too, does much of the rest of the Town but Mr. 21 Adrian Forty and Susanne Kuchler (eds), The Art of Forgetting (Oxford: Oxford International Publishers, 1999) p.14 22 Coventry City Council, Coventry City Centre Redevelopment Masterplanning, p.3

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Fig 10: ‘Disorder and Destruction-Order and Design’ Cover of Coventry City Council’s city booklet, Plan for the new Coventry, 1945

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Figs 11-12: Photographs from The Future of Coventry Exhibition, 1945


Gibson has realised that he can only replan what has been destroyed.’23 The new city architects evidently saw the blitz as a marvellous excuse to clear ‘the crowded, unoriented houses and the narrow, tortuous streets’ of the city centre, where any ‘undestroyed property’ would be subject to possible ‘necessary demolition,’ and ‘slum clearance.’24 It was apparently also seen as unfortunate for the architects that the rest of the city could not be replanned in the same ‘ordered’ manner. A public exhibition: The Future of Coventry, in 1945 presented visions of a modern city, arising out of the ruins. Images and graphics used display an optimism for a clean bright future pasted over a messy past (see figs 10-12). A blurb for the new masterplan project on The Jerde Partnership’s website displays a similar attitude to the state of the city centre today. Just as the post-war planners saw a blitzed and ‘characterless’ Coventry as a blank slate for their modernist vision, the new designers see the current high street decline and poor image of the city as another opportunity to start again: ‘If we tried to do this in Oxford we would be shouted out of town. But the potential of Coventry allows us to do something audacious and bold.’25 The ‘potential’ of Coventry in this instance appears to be the unpopularity of the city’s existing architecture and its resulting ‘potential’ for demolition without protest. In fact, architecturally the city centre still serves the purpose it was built for relatively well. It is easily accessible by car and on foot, provides ample parking close to the shops and a safe pedestrian environment, as well as a range of different shop sizes. Ironically, these are also qualities that the Jerde scheme aims to provide for the city in the new masterplan26 -so in those respects it should still work well. Previous ‘failed’ architecture and planning therefore cannot lie entirely in purely physical or practical issues. Possibly then the city’s ‘failures’ might be more to do with perceptions of the city, its apparent lack of a ‘sense of place,’ or perhaps the existence of an undesirable one.

23 Gibson, p.1 24 Gibson, p.2 25  Stuart Berriman, Jerde Partnmership, interviewed by Les Reid in Coventry City Centre’s £1billion new look, Coventry Evening Telegraph, (27 February 2009) 26 Coventry City Council, 2012, www.coventry.gov.uk/citycentresouth (accessed 26 March 2013)

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The modernist legacy of the ubiquitous concrete council estate has inevitably had an impact on how modernist architecture is perceived. Like the ‘squalid’ Victorian slums, modernist estates are now also inescapably associated with poverty and urban deprivation. In Militant Modernism, Owen Hatherley discusses how politics, ‘pervasive class hatred’ and dystopian futurist visions are ‘inextricably bound up’ in perceptions of modernist buildings.27 The concrete and brick-clad precincts of a heavily bombed postindustrial city such as Coventry must inevitably carry these associations, and regardless of functionality, its image is defined at least partly by them. Although escaping a place in The Idler magazine’s Crap Towns: The 50 Worst Places To Live In The UK in 2003, Coventry is a victim of a long British tradition of ‘crap town’ bashing, which has branded it very much as a ‘crap’ place. In regeneration debates, modernism’s great concrete relics are invariably branded as ‘eyesores’ or defended as ‘masterpieces’ and their future debated as such, with little or no consideration of what residents might want.28 Hatherley describes this culture of regeneration as ‘the beautification of an inner-city working class area...achieved by removing its inhabitants.’29 Although addressing mostly retail, rather than residential space Coventry’s new masterplan might be described as one such ‘beautification’ scheme. What precisely the ‘existing strength and character’ that Jerde want to build on is unclear, but it is far more obvious which ‘character’ they wish to eliminate. Bits and Pieces As in any other place, the population of Coventry no doubt hold innumerable individual versions of what its ‘strength and character’ might be. Kevin Lynch discusses the ‘great delight’ of ‘the contrast and specialization of individual character’ involving ‘attention to detail,’ ‘Vividness of elements, and their precise tuning to functional and symbolic differences, will help to provide this character.’30

27  Owen Hatherley, Militant Modernism, (Winchester: O Books, 2008), p. 9 28  Hatherley, Militant Modernism, pp.40-41

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29  Hatherley, Militant Modernism, p.41 30 Lynch, p.109


In the quest for an overall city identity or ‘sense of place’ these ‘differences’ tend to be overlooked or balled up into one singular identity. The importance that the post-war designers placed on their new ordered and above all ‘modern’ creation, through clearance of a chaotic and ‘disordered’ past overlooked the messy social details of everyday city life. The desire to escape from the cursed image of ‘failed’ modernist architecture into a glittering glass-clad future once again condemns the existing state of Coventry and abandons any other versions of ‘character’ that do not fit with the overall ‘vision.’ In Architecture and The City, Aldo Rossi discusses the twentieth century approach to urban planning: ‘Urban Studies never attribute sufficient importance to research dealing with singular urban artifacts. By ignoring them-precisely those aspects of reality that are most individual, particular, irregular, and also most interesting- we end up constructing theories as artificial as they are useless’31 This suggests a reaction against a post-war tabula rasa attitude and rejection of the treatment of the city as a singular entity. The importance of these individual aspects of reality is something that Jane Jacobs discusses in The Death and Life of Great American Cities: ‘emphasis on bits and pieces is of the essence: this is what a city is, bits and pieces that supplement each other and support each other.’32 This is a key concept in Jacobs’ promotion of city diversity as essential to urban vitality. William H Whyte also explored tiny ‘bits and pieces’ of the city in his influential 1980 film, The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, where he studies the movements and social activities of New Yorkers in great detail. The resulting film shows the city’s public spaces from a very human perspective; considering how people’s behaviour is affected by each wall, tree, step or bench. The importance placed on the study and consideration of individual aspects of a city put forward in established critiques of twentieth century planning have all influenced current ideas of ‘placemaking’ in planning theory. The Jerde principle to ‘build on the existing strength and character’ of the city reflects these ideas, and yet the existing realities and variety of ‘places’ in the city are seemingly not acknowledged at all in the proposals. Like the post-war planning of the city, Jerde’s homogenous treatment of the 31 Rossi, p.21 32 Jacobs, p.405

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precinct takes almost no notice of any differences in architecture, behaviour or activity. ‘Difference’ has been deliberately ignored, the city viewed as ‘characterless’ so treated as another blank canvas for Jerde’s version of ‘character’ to be shipped in and applied.

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2. ‘To create a unique identity and sense of place for Coventry as a hub for the whole West Midlands and Warwickshire district’ In the council’s official publication of the masterplan, this principle is added to, gaining even higher aspirations: ‘to recreate Coventry as a unique destination... as a regional, national, and international place of interest.’33 The desire to become a ‘destination’ for outsiders as well as Coventrians necessitates the shedding of its ‘crap town’ image and the founding of a strong positive identity. The post-war homogenization of the architecture of many British town and city centres such as Coventry has had lasting effects on their image. Blitzed centres such as Southampton and Portsmouth, as well as new towns like Milton Keynes and Stevenage have also suffered from similar ‘crap town’ images as a result. Following late twentieth century globalisation and the rapid expansion and domination of multinational chain stores, there has also been a reaction against ‘clone towns’ in recent years. A report published by the new economics foundation in 2005 highlights issues with ‘the loss of local identity on the nation’s high streets,’34 and argues against ‘blandness,’ ‘the search for perfect banality’ and ‘visual monotony’ in town centres.35 This has also become a hot topic in recent discussions about the future of UK high streets in a struggling, and increasingly online retail economy, with much talk about how town centres need to re-define their local identity and set themselves apart to compete. Through this particular ‘principle’ the Jerde scheme attempts to address these issues, presenting an idea of setting the city apart as an individual, ‘unique’ place to attract outside interest. In A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain, Owen Hatherley discusses the architectural effects of planning from post-war modernism through to the ‘Urban Renaissance’ of the 1990s on Britain’s ‘crap towns’: ‘after being given such a relentless kicking by successive governments and the invariably hostile press, by the 1990s local mettle and pride had broken, so any development was good, anything that ‘brought jobs to the area’ was permitted, and the towns strained to become something other than what they were, something distinctly less interesting.’36 This is certainly true of Coventry and this ‘strain’ is still evident in the new proposals for the city.

33 Coventry City Council, p.3 34 Mary Murphy, (ed), Clone Town Britain (London: New Economics Foundation, 2005) p.1 35 Murphy, p.13 36  Owen Hatherley, A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain, (London: Verso, 2010) p. xxxii

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MARKET WAY

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Fig 13: Stoke Sentral, Benoy

Fig: 17: Coventry City Centre South, Benoy

Fig 14: Stoke Sentral, Benoy

Fig: 18: Coventry Masterplan, Jerde

Fig 15: Wokingham Town Centre, Benoy

Fig: 19: ‘Coventry Arena’, Jerde

Fig 16: Wokingham Town Centre, Benoy

Fig: 20: Coventry City Centre South, Benoy


Comparative Regeneration Coventry’s continual ‘strain’ to become something else arises, at least partly, out of a repeated comparison with other towns and cities. In a description of the redevelopment on Coventry council’s website, reasons for the masterplan are explained. Featuring prominently in this description are several comparisons with other UK cities: ‘As the 11th largest city in the UK (and 9th in England), Coventry ranks 49th in the retail ranking according to spend, lagging behind other similar centres in terms of the quality and range of shops.’37 This also says something about the image of the city, through emotive wording- placing emphasis on the city’s ‘ranking,’ suggesting how the city might be perceived by outsiders. The council’s response is an attempt to compete directly with these other centres, to climb back up the ‘retail ranking.’ In 2011 the council employed Benoy, international architects and designers of London’s Shepherd’s Bush Westfield centre, to build on Jerde’s masterplan to develop more detailed proposals for new retail units. The firm have also drawn up proposals for other struggling UK centres, such as Wokingham, Colchester, Stoke-on-Trent and Norwich. Despite the proposition of a ‘unique destination,’ to tell ‘the story of Coventry that speaks of its unique qualities and virtues,’38 the images presented appear remarkably similar in architectural style, ‘character’ and aspiration to these other proposals (figs.13-20). The attempt to contend with other centres nationally and internationally is through duplication and direct competition of the same services- offering the same shops in the same way and of the same architectural style. Through replication of recognisable architectural styles of other commercially successful retail destinations such as Westfield, the council evidently wants to say something about the city’s aspirations and ability to compete. This copy and paste approach however cannot create the ‘uniqueness’ that they also aspire to, so the scheme addresses the issue of individuality in other ways.

37 Coventry City Council, Coventry City Centre South redevelopment - plans unveiled, 8 February 2012, www.coventry.gov.uk/citycentresouth (accessed 22 March 2013) 38  Coventry City Council, Coventry City Centre South redevelopment - plans unveiled

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Fig 21: Precinct Fountain- Informal meeting, sitting and eating place

Fig 22+23: Existing views of the Fountain

Fig 24+25: The Jerde Partnership: proposed views with new ‘iconic’ library

26


New Icon: The Purple Egg One of the council’s objectives for the masterplan is ‘to define the “Coventry Experience”’39 to set it apart from its competitors. Although the majority of the proposed architecture is of a fairly homogenous style, a few prominent landmark buildings appear at key intersections and entrances of the scheme. A giant purple egg stuck to the side of a crooked tower appears as the new ‘iconic’ library in place of Marks and Spencer and an enormous brick archway stands at the Warwick Road entrance framing what is currently the British Heart Foundation shop. The Jerde Partnership’s take on ‘a unique identity’ and attempt to put the city ‘on the map’ in this instance is through avant-garde, statement architecture- taking a stab at creating a ‘Bilbao effect’ for Coventry. Although the egg is not necessarily intended to be built in its literal form, as explained by head councillor Ken Taylor, the city council clearly see the proposal to be of important symbolic significance as an ‘iconic building’ for the city.40 The quest for city identity and individuality is manifested here through extravagant architectural statements. These ‘iconic’ elements are clearly intended to act as landmarks for the new scheme. However, in the creation of these new ‘icons,’ old landmarks have disappeared from the plans. At the central crossing point of the two main pedestrian corridors, there is currently a fountain, which serves as focal point for the precinct. Although of no great architectural or historical standing, the fountain has become a popular meeting point and informal seating for surrounding food kiosks, and is one of the few public spaces that is well-used all year-round. In the new plans for the site, the fountain has been replaced by an open plaza with no sitting or stopping points. As a focal reference point of the precinct, it is important for orientation and therefore ‘sense of place’ within the city. The giant purple egg replaces the fountain as a landmark for the central point of the precinct, yet does not provide the same possibilities for social interchange. The removal of this physical and social anchor for the centre destroys its contribution to Coventry’s existing ‘sense of place.’

39 Coventry City Council, Coventry City Centre Redevelopment Masterplanning, 2012, p. 3 40 Ken,Taylor, cited on www.jerde.com, 2009 (accessed 15 March 2013)

27


Fig 26: Proposal for New Market Building, Benoy

Central skylights of 1957 ‘innovative’ design

Doria’s Bakery- 40 years Melina’s Hats- 5 years

Tariq’s Veg- 2 years

28

Fig 27: New Masterplan overlaid on existing map showing proposed displacement of market

Fig 28: New market building- Jerde, 2008

Market Cafe-50 years

Tony’s Sweets- 45 years Ed’s Coffee- 2 years

Peter Mac-35 years

Re-Issue- 2 weeks*

Fig 29: Coventry Market stalls- 2 weeks - 60 years in residence *information on time resident given in interviews with stallholders


Old Icon: Coventry Market One of the post-war architects’ attempts at iconic architecture, the circular indoor market, initially appears to have been retained in the masterplan, but on closer inspection of the plans has in fact been displaced south-west of its current position, demolishing the City Arcade to make way for new larger retail units. The market is well-used and generally regarded with affection by Coventry residents who use it, with several families having run stalls since the 1960s. Although the 1957 market was of innovative design post-war, as the first in the UK to have rooftop parking, it is hidden from the main precinct thoroughfares behind other shops, and access is via small service roads and side alleys. It would not be initially obvious to an outsider and certainly makes no visible architectural statement of its presence. The proposal images show an entirely new, presumably demolished and re-built glass-clad market opening onto a new plaza with café chairs and tables, facing new shopfronts boasting high-end retailers. The retention of the market in the scheme shows an acknowledgement of its success, regular use and historical significance. The possible displacement, re-building and evident proposed gentrification of the market, however, highlights a fundamental contradiction in this instance of ‘placemaking’. If a ‘sense of place’ is to be understood as involving memory, recognition, emotional orientation and complex social structures, the idea of re-making a place to a new set of criteria seems to contradict the very ideals it promotes. Attempting to re-construct values of place for the market through strategic urban planning and calculated architectural design seems deeply inauthentic. To do this through the destruction of an existing set of physical, as well as social and economical networks and re-construction in another way further contradicts the scheme’s ‘placemaking’ values. This throws up questions over the authenticity of the concept of ‘placemaking’ altogether. The fact remains, however, that cities are man-made entities and every physical aspect of every ‘place’ in every city has to be built or ‘made’ at some point, so the matter of authenticity of placemaking in design cannot be clear-cut. This is something that Edward Relph discusses in Place and Placelessness. He argues that ‘authentic’ place-making, whether through accidental, organic and ‘unselfconscious’ development or studied, planned 29


self-aware and ‘self-conscious’ planning depends on the recognition, and reflection of ‘an interaction of diverse intentions and values with a respect for physical settings and landscapes.’41 Relph discusses conflicting definitions and narratives of value of place, yet despite possible endless differing ideas of value, he asserts that ‘Place is fundamentally a phenomenon of everyday experience and thus precedes all academic concepts and interpretations. This cannot be assumed away or dismissed for ideological reasons.’ 42 This outlines ‘place’ in the most basic terms, without assigning value to any particular contributing aspects or ideals. In Relph’s definition, the maintenance or creation of a ‘sense of place’ for the market could be understood simply in terms of a direct observation and consideration of its everyday realities. The new masterplan’s demolish-and-re-build-better treatment of the market, however, disregards its existing realities, becoming lost in the large scale sweeping re-invention of the city. From Howard’s Garden City through post-war utopias to modern ‘placemaking,’ urban planning strategies have always sought to bring order and coherence to messy, broken and disordered realities. The town, city or district in question tends to be viewed as a single problem and single entity so is subsequently treated as such. This attitude is also displayed in Coventry’s new masterplan. The problem with this approach as described by Jane Jacobs is that it creates a ‘dishonest mask of pretended order, achieved by ignoring or suppressing the real order that is struggling to exist and to be served.’43 Besides supporting an existing ‘sense of place,’ the maintenance of older buildings, such as the market in the city centre could also be significant for city vitality. In The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs explains her condition of ‘the need for aged buildings’ as key for vitality, not as an attempt at preservation of articles of historical worth or aesthetic value, but rather to maintain affordable rents for smaller businesses and start-ups to encourage diversity and allow for growth.44 Coventry City Council are still looking for a developing partner to invest £1billion in the scheme, so an investment of this size would suggest that a fairly significant return might be expected. It is questionable if

30

41 42 43 44

Relph, Place and Placelessness, (London: Pion Limited, 1976) p.78 Relph, p.79 Jacobs, p.25 Jacobs, p.200-206


developers of the new Coventry would be financially able to maintain low rents for the current occupants of the market building. If the market is to be demolished and rebuilt as suggested, it is more likely that new occupants might be multiples, and more of the ‘European café culture’-type businesses, as suggested in the renderings (see fig 26). If successful in its intentions, the scheme would cause gentrification of the market and therefore possible destruction of its existing economical and social networks. This arguably would destroy a unique (and thriving) part of the existing ‘Coventry Experience,’ transplanting it with something entirely different. Although the Jerde scheme proposes elements of ‘distinctive’ architecture, and makes an attempt at creating a ‘unique identity,’ the proposals do not reflect existing distinctive characteristics or social patterns in the city. Everyday ‘Coventry Experiences’ not considered to be desirable or of great enough value to the city are to be swept out of the way for a newer and better city vision. The ‘unique’ characteristics of the scheme appear artificial and contrived as a result, proposing novelty statement architecture and nominal retention of old architectural templates such as the market. This is perhaps missing the point entirely. Rather ironically, for example, many new migrant businesses would be removed to make way for Coventry’s new ‘international’ identity. This approach writes off a potential gold mine of ‘character.’ Hatherley describes this overlooked ‘mess and montage of these multiracial cities’ such as Coventry as ‘something that nowhere else in Europe can match.’45

.lk

45   Hatherley, A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain, p. xxxiii

31


32


3. ‘To design a flexible framework to adapt and accommodate future demands over the long term development of the City’46 The Independent recently reported that major retailers in Britain closed an average of 20 stores a day over the past 12 months and that 1,779 stores were closed last year, compared with 174 in 201147. With online shopping accounting for almost 13.5% of all retail trade48 and still rapidly increasing with the rise of tablets and smartphones, everadvancing technology continues to chip away at the British high street. Most large chains now offer the same products online as in-store, and online retailers can offer similar products at lower prices. As out-of-town retail parks and supermarkets further drain city-centre trade, big-brand retailers are fast disappearing from UK high streets, and the question is raised of what the real purpose of our town and city centres now is? As the recession drags on, it is widely accepted that traditional urban centres must adapt to survive. If the principle purpose of the centre can no longer be solely shopping, identifying a ‘sense of place’ gains greater importance. The Jerde scheme acknowledges this in this ‘principle’ and aims to make a city ‘that can accommodate the radical changes demanded from its retail, employment and residential markets as the city adapts to a global web-based society.’49 Despite this ambitious proposal, neither the Jerde masterplan, nor the later Benoy adaptations accommodate much besides traditional retail units and shop frontage, interspersed with a few restaurants and cafés. The recent collapse of several well-established brands and current demise of the high street would suggest that this might not be the most economically sustainable approach for Coventry. A report published by the nef in 2010, entitled Reimagining the high street, Escape from Clone Town Britain discusses the vulnerability of town centres that rely solely on chain stores in times of economic hardship: exactly the kind of ‘quality brands’ that Coventry’s redevelopment wants to attract. The report claims that ‘the towns most dependent on the biggest chains and out of town stores have proven to be most vulnerable to the economic crisis,’50 as multiples quickly up and leave, having little financial incentive to ‘stick it out’ on a ‘dying’ high street as local traders might. The report highlights the importance of ‘local distinctiveness’ in drawing 46   Jerde Partnership, www.jerde.com/regions/place71.html (accessed 13 April 2013) 47 PricewaterhouseCoopers in partnership with the Local Data Company- cited in Dominic Harris, Retail chains shut 20 shops a day, The Independent, 28 February 2013 48 According to BCG Uk, www.bbc.co.uk/news/business (accessed 23 March 2013) 49 Coventry City Council, Coventry City Centre Redevelopment Masterplanning, 2012, p. 3 50 Cox, Elizabeth et al., Reimagining the high street, Escape from Clone Town Britain, New Economics Foundation, 2010 p.4

33


CONNECTION FROM QUEEN VICTORIA ROAD MARKET WAY

Figs. 30-31: ‘Quality retail’- Benoy

North Precinct (1950)

Cathedral Lanes (1990)

Millennium Place (2000)

Lower Precinct (2001) Fig 32: Previous ‘quality retail’ developments

34


shoppers, and ultimately the economic sustainability of town centres. The proposed architecture of large retail units with expanses of glass frontage does not appear to reflect recent changes in shopping patterns, nor does it seem particularly ‘flexible’ for future changes. All renderings of the scheme feature large retail units filled with ‘big stores,’ and ‘quality retailers’ that the scheme will aim to attract.51 Luxury brands feature prominently in the images- Swarovski appears alongside an existing Oxfam shop and Gucci replaces what is currently Iceland, proposing an entirely different consumer demographic and a gargantuan leap of gentrification for the city centre (see figs 30-31). Quality Retail It is ‘quality’ retail that the city has repeatedly aspired to since the post-war rebuilding of the centre. In 1990 new shopping centre, Cathedral Lanes, opened between central Broadgate square and the old cathedral quarter as an attempt to attract higher-end retailers and create a ‘European café culture’ in the city. It was closely followed by West Orchards Shopping Centre at the north end of the precinct, which opened in 1991, intended to be the ‘jewel in the crown’52 of the city centre. ‘Priory Place’ saw the construction of new ‘modern city apartments,’ restaurants and bars in 2000. In 2001 the entire lower precinct was roofed-over in glass, shops were renovated and shopfronts re-clad to create a ‘vibrant city centre retail environment.’53 These schemes have had varying levels of success. Figure 32 shows several of the schemes today. Although a few cafés and ‘higher-end’ shops initially occupied the Cathedral Lanes centre, half of the retail units have since been knocked-through for a large Wilkinson’s store, whilst the majority of the other half now lie empty, save for a couple of charity shops. The Coventry Evening Telegraph recently reported that it is now one of the ‘most hated’ landmarks in the city.54 It took 4 years for every unit in West Orchards to be filled and although units have remained mostly full since, not entirely with the kind of ‘quality shops’ intended. Priory Place apartments are occupied, but restaurants and bars unfortunately have not achieved the 51 Coventry City Council, Coventry City Centre South redevelopment - plans unveiled 52 Gamble that paid off for city, Coventry Telegraph (19 April 2001) 53 Michael Aukett Architects, www.michaelaukett.com (accessed 19 April 2013) 54  Les Reid, Multi-million pound revamp planned for Coventry’s ‘hated’ Cathedral Lanes, Coventry Telegraph, (3 August 2012)

35


Fig 33: Hertford Street, The Future of Coventry Exhibition booklet, 1945

36

Fig 34: Hertford Street, Benoy, 2010


‘thriving nightlife’ promised, and the plaza space is completely deserted during the day. Although initially successful in attracting new retailers, many of the refurbished Lower Precinct units now lie empty. The Jerde masterplan and Benoy renders present the latest version of this ‘quality’ retailing city, an image that is startlingly similar to post-war versions to be demolished (see figs 33-34). Whilst shopping centres such as Birmingham’s Bullring or London’s Westfield centres continue to thrive, their periphery centres suffer the consequences of their commercial success. Coventry is one such centre that has suffered as a result of the Bullring’s recent success. Coventry’s intended remedy to this is direct competition- presenting similar shops and services in a similar way. But perhaps people who shop in Coventry do not expect or want the same thing. Nearby Birmingham, Leamington, Stratford and Solihull centres all provide the ‘high-quality’ retailers that Coventry Council are keen to attract and are all easily and quickly accessible from Coventry by car or train. The suburban middle classes of Coventry who have the means to shop at such ‘high-quality’ retailers also have the means to travel to them. This abundance of neighbouring competition partly explains why repeated attempts to draw the affluent middle classes back to Coventry city centre with gleaming new shopping centres, beyond initial novelty value, have failed. Moreover, this would also suggest that the lack of high-end retailers in the centre is no real issue for the residents of Coventry. Although tempting the middleclasses back with ‘quality brands’ might initially bring jobs to the centre, the longevity of this might be questionable, based on previous developments in the city and current trends. Conflicts in the definition of ‘quality’ or ‘value’ come up time and again in urban renewal debates. In Ground Control, Anna Minton describes the new profit-focused definition of ‘public good’ in urban planning resulting in ‘the creation of a new world, where town and city centres are becoming little more than shopping complexes.’55 This capitalist definition of ‘public good’ hides behind promises of job creation and area improvement, validating this blinkered approach and disregarding local community, selling off the city to the ‘highest bidder.’56 In the perpetual pursuit of a high-quality and high-value city centre, 55  Anna Minton, Ground Control, (London: Penguin Books, 2009) p.19 56  Minton, p. 21-26

37


Fig 35: Arcade model from Arcade With Roof Parking Will be First in Britain, Coventry Evening Telegraph, 1960

2 weeks

1 year

3 years

30 years

Fig 36: Displaced market and new retail units in the location of demolished arcade, The Jerde Partnership, 2008

6 months

10 years

15 years

5 years

30 years

2 weeks

Fig 37: Old and new businesses in City Arcade

38

Fig 38: Bus Stop Cafe on a Tuesday morning (25 years in The City Arcade)


past and present city planners and designers consistently overlook existing smaller-scale successful businesses of Coventry. These may not represent the ‘high quality’ retail environment desired but might give clues as to what residents who use the centre actually want and need. Micro-Economies As the big brand retailers steadily drain from the centre and rents fall, small economies are gradually emerging in Coventry city centre. Specialist supermarkets, delicatessens, bakeries and restaurants are appearing alongside long-stayed specialist shops and cafés. New tailors, designers, beauty salons, hairdressers, media and service companies are emerging from new migrant populations in the city as well as entrepreneurial graduates, starting up for themselves in a time of poor job prospects. Many of the longest-standing businesses, as well as new startups generally appear in smaller units towards the borders of the centre and have become social centres for locals. Hairdressers, nail bars, cafés and even small supermarkets have become community gathering places. The City Arcade, to the south of the city centre, earmarked for demolition in Jerde’s masterplan, presents an example of this. It was completed in 196357 and has since been home to numerous independent businesses due to small unit sizes and low rents. Many of the businesses in the arcade have been there for years, several since its opening in the 1960s. One such business in the arcade, ‘The Cutting Room and Bus Stop Café’ providing hairdressing alongside a café has been resident for over 25 years.58 The café has a solid regular customer base with a constant stream of custom through its doors all through the day and I have never seen it less than packed. Businesses such as this one evidently perform an important social function for local people and have been successful as a result. The new masterplan would see the entire arcade demolished to make way for a smaller number of much larger retail units. Although generating much less revenue than the ‘big stores’ the council wants to attract, these micro-economies in the city have had more staying power than many of the larger chain stores and have managed to remain relatively unchanged for 57 Anon, Coventry Arcade’s Design Award, Coventry Evening Telegraph, (11 November 1963) 58  Information from interview between author and Karen, co-owner of ‘The Cutting Room and Bus Stop Café’, (3rd April 2013)

39


years. The services provided by them are well used and appreciated by local residents so arguably present a more accurate image of what a ‘Coventry Experience’ might be and a more genuine ‘sense of place’ and community for the people of the city. Although these established places represent memories and support existing social structures, the city’s architecture and identity must also serve its future. As suggested by Kevin Lynch, ‘the function of a good visual environment may not be simply to facilitate routine trips, or to support meanings and feelings already possessed. Quite as important may be its role as a guide and a stimulus for new exploration.’59 As well as these long-stayed residents, several new businesses have opened up more recently in the arcade. Although there have inevitably been closures and a turnover of shops over the years, recently salons, food, medicine and other speciality shops have sprung up to fill empty units. Of the businesses surveyed, the length of residence in the arcade ranged from 2 weeks to 50 years. Small unit sizes and relatively low rents help empty units to be fairly rapidly re-filled, allowing new businesses to set up there supporting start-ups and encouraging growth of city ‘diversity’ and ‘creativity,’ as promoted by Jane Jacobs. It is the larger units with higher rents, as proposed in the new masterplan, that struggle to be filled after a closure. New migrant populations have also brought new industries and businesses to the city. Areas of the city with previously emptying high streets have been revived by migrant communities and businesses. In many ways the speciality markets, pharmacies, hairdressers, bakeries, jewellers, tailors etc. have in fact resurrected the long-lost ‘butcher, baker and candlestickmaker’ model of the UK high street, reviving old industries in new ways. Maps 1-5 below document some of the city’s new and old microeconomies. Map 1 shows new textiles industries that have appeared in the city centre in recent years: new tailors, run mostly by Indian migrants, provide dressmaking, alterations and repairs. Speciality Polish, Indian, African and Chinese food shops and restaurants have filled many empty units in the centre (map 2-3). American, Afro-Caribbean, Indian and Chinese hairdressing, beauty treatments and medicines and are offered in new salons and parlours (map 4). New creative enterprises are also mapped 40

59 Lynch, p.109-110


(map 5). Although these are not exclusive phenomena to Coventry by any means, they present a naturally growing and thriving part of the centre’s economy and community. The following maps are by no means exhaustive, but present several alternative examples of both established and evolving identities and economies in Coventry.

41


42


A Brief Guide to...

Coventry’s

Micro

Economies Emerging Industries and Start-Ups

43


-Textiles IndustriesMigrant Industries, Dressmaking, Designers and Repair Services

1

2

Godiva Tailors

City Tailors

1 Year

4

3 Years

Singer

40 Years

7

Hannigans

8

10

Cranium Wear

1 Month

5

Haseena

6

Re-Issue 3 Weeks

Tahim Drapers 30 Years

9

Cyrenians Concept Store

2 Weeks

11

Silver Stitch

6 Months

10 Years

Revival

2 Years

44

3

1 Month

12

Parker’s Fabrics 30 Years


19

1

18 6

Textil Indus es tries

5

7 1 4 3 9

8

13

17

13

Cyrus Faze

16

10

11 12

2 14 15

14

Garb

10 Years

8 Years

16

Shahnaz

5 Years

15

17

Raven Art 1 Year

GladRags 3 Years

18 Pasand of Lahore 19 15 Years

Ranjit Textiles

5 Years

45


-Beauty and HairdressingNail Bars, Beauty Salons and Hairdressers

1

2 Malcolm Hair and Beauty 3

Hair Exclusive

4

5

Miss Madam

3 Years

46

10

Enigma

10 Years

6

6 Months

American Nail Design

9

20 Years

11

Kamal’s Kreations

30 Years

8

Whiteroom Salon

2 Years

Elegance Nails Salon

2 Weeks

7

The Studio b1

12 Years

10 Years

Kudos 5 Years

12

Stylistics 2 Years

Paul Frederick Hair

15 Years

13

Taupe

4 Months


2

Beauty Hairdr & essing 8

12

10

9

11

20 15 16 13

3

7 4

6

5

18

17

19

1

2

14

14

Serenity

15

15 Years

18

KOKO 4 Years

Nana’s Hair & Beauty

8 Years

19

16

Generation Barbers 15 Years

Jack’s Barber Shop

15 Years

17

Savoia Unisex

1 Year

20

Suzette’s Afro -Euro Salon 3 Years

47


-Speciality FoodsBakeries and Markets

1

2

China Mini Market

3 Years

4

2 Years

Najlepsze Delikatesy

3 Years

7

HerbMagic

8

10 Years

48

10

Tony’s Sweets 45 Years

Smaczek, Polish Delicatessen

5

Drop in the Ocean

35 Years

Coventry Market Stalls

9

2 weeks-50 Years

11

Maria’s Cakes 20 Years

6

3

Walter Smith

30 Years

The American Shop

2 Years

Tariq’s 2 Years

12

Doria’s Bakery

40 Years


3

Specia lit Foods y

16

14

15

17 19

13

11 12 9 10 8 1 6 7 2 4 3 5

13

Asian

14

Flavours 4 Years

17

Maria’s Bakery 36 Years

Marysienka

15

4 Years

18

20

18

AlQuds 15 Years

T.J Rowland

16

65 Years

19

Mushtaq’s Sweets 25 Years

Krowka 2 Years

20

African Supermarket 2 Years

49


-Restaurants and Cafes-

1

Roosters

2

Flames Cafe Bar

10 Years

4

Harvey’s Diner

Baguette Bakery

8

12 Years

50

10

Noodle Bar

15 Years

5

20 Years

7

3

Etna’s Ristorante 30 Years

9 Years

6

Bus Stop Cafe

Market Cafe

25 Years

Baked Potatoes

50 Years

9

Buttons

15 Years

11

70 Years

Oceana

2 Years

12

Jamrock

7 Years


4

Restau ran & Cafes ts 9

13 8

5

13

16

7

6

4 1 2

Turmeric Gold

17 Years

16

Asian Flavours 6 Years

12

17

11

18

14

15

10

3

14 Pig in the Middle 15 3 Years

Cyrenians Cafe

1 Month

18

Chinese Kitchen

4 Years

A.G.G. 51

4 Months

17


-New Creative IndustriesMedia, Photogrpahy, Film and Design

1

4

Shopfront Theatre 2 Years

2 Artspace Studions 3

Imagineer

5

6 Years

7

Digital Flow

10

Parenthesis 2 Years

4 Years

L’Cocco

6

Metaldog Films

6 Months

8

Shysters inc.

5 Years

9

6 Years

2 Years

52

Talkingbirds

4 Years

11

Dead Kingdom

2 Years

12

Verilian web design 1 Year

abLURD 1 Year


5

10

Creativ Indust e ries 5

2

4

8

6 3 1

7

9

11

12

13

Creative Coventry

3 Yeas

14

Quadrant Centre

15

Blue Ridge Films

1 Yea

3 Yeas

16Clare Marley digital sports fashion 17 8 Months

CM. Fashion 1 Year

18Pop-Up people

2 Years

53


54


Differences The reactive Jerde approach ignores these social and economical developments in the life of the city. The new overriding image and architecture proposed, drawn from a generic model of a ‘successful’ global city does not recognise or include any alternative versions of city life. In Cosmopolis ii, Leonie Sandercock discusses the resistance of 21st century urban planning to embrace issues of difference and diversity in cities. She discusses the various ‘ways of knowing’60 of different sociocultural groups and argues that the modernist legacy of valuation of a singular ‘official, heroic narrative’ over all others renders any alternative versions ‘invisible.’61 ‘Local knowledge’ of ‘uncertified people’ is not often considered valid by ‘professional’ planners and architects, and is subsequently ignored, resulting in sexist, racist or classist effects.62 The ‘official story’ of Coventry’s masterplan not only fails to acknowledge the socioeconomic value of small economies and migrant communities of Coventry; it denies them any place at all, actively wiping them out through demolition of buildings such as the arcade and the market. But besides possible displacement and destruction of existing socio-economic structures, the masterplan also fails to see potential in them. In a city with a draining commercial centre but socially thriving peripheries, these might well be seen as socioeconomic models for a possible revitalisation of the city centre. These Coventry-born micro-economies could be precisely the existing ‘strengths’ and ‘characters,’ described but ignored by the masterplan. The established and emerging successful enterprises and spaces of the city might be looked to instead, to define the city’s ‘sense of place’ as well as suggest possibilities for its future.

60  Leonie Sandercock, Cosmopolis 11: Mongrel Cities of the 21st Century (London: Continuum, 2003), p. 59 61  Sandercock, p. 6 62  Sandercock, p. 60-82

55


56


Part 2:

Start-Up City

57


58


Start-up City Through Relph’s understanding of the ‘making of places’ as providing ‘structure that both reflects and guides experience,’63 he promotes ‘development of environments’ based on ‘patterns of direct experience,’ rather than ‘conceptual principles or mass fashions.’64 Coventry’s post-war centre, as well as the new Jerde proposals have been based largely on the latter- on foreign ideals for the city, based on general town planning ethos and fashions of the time. ‘Patterns of direct experience’ are ignored and therefore ‘sense of place’ has not been understood. A ‘sense of place,’ involving complex emotional and social structures cannot be ‘made’ by councils, planners or architects alone. Rather, the practice of ‘placemaking’ in urban planning and design should aim to reflect existing identities whilst supporting new social, cultural and economical developments. Rather than perpetually struggling to keep up with other UK cities, drawing ideas and investment from elsewhere, a far more interesting, unique and realistic strategy might be devised through attention to what other places have ignored, and respect to what actually works for the city and its people. Building upon successful, if small, elements of the city’s economy and social life as shown in maps 1-5 might start to give city designers clues to how an appropriate development strategy could begin to be constructed. It should be the social rituals, cultures, curiosities, personalities, singularities and individualities of the city that are ‘built on,’ encouraged and strengthened to form a strong ‘sense of place’ and a strategy for the future of the city. As the might of chain stores begins to be questioned, there is much talk in the current media of how high streets must be ‘re-invented,’ to survive. Pop-up shops, showrooms for online retailers and focus on community and leisure facilities have all been suggested and debated at length. In 2011, retail marketing consultant Mary Portas was appointed by the Prime Minister to conduct an independent review into the state of Britain’s high streets. The resulting report discusses the loss of local identities and community values, individuality and ‘sense of belonging and place’65 through high street homogenization.

63 Relph, p.143 64 Relph, p.143 65 Mary Portas, The Portas Review, 2011, www.maryportas.com (accessed 26 March 2013), p.13

59


Fig 42: New road signage for the FarGo scheme

Fig 43: Businesses already, or to be renovated in FarGo scheme

60


Portas’ vision ‘to breathe economic and community life back into our high streets’66 is currently being tested out in twelve ‘Portas Pilot’ towns across the country. Her proposed solution for mending British high streets focuses on independent businesses and local ‘character.’67 Although the initiative has been criticised as nostalgic and unrealistic, she proposes an alternative response to changing communities and consumer demands, shifting focus to social and community aspects of the high street, strengthening distinctiveness of place to provide a richer ‘high street experience’ in order to contend with out-of-town and online competition. FarGo

‘FarGo,’ a regeneration scheme of Far Gosford Street, one of Coventry city centre’s few surviving in-tact pre-war streets presents a similar approach to an alternative version of what Coventry’s ‘sense of place’ might be or become. The scheme has been funded by local business initiatives and the national lottery heritage fund to develop a ‘creative quarter’ for the city, re-activating the area through renovation of existing buildings and support of ‘a melting pot of small innovative businesses.’68 Project coordinator, Joanne Truslove describes the ‘reuse of historic buildings to retain a “sense of place”’69 as one of the most important aspects of FarGo. The project is on a far smaller scale than Jerde proposals however and the architecture of the street dates back as far as the 1600s. Its location just outside the main city centre has meant that it escaped the attention of post-war redevelopments; being subject to only partial ‘slum clearance’ so Victorian terraces and factory buildings remain. However, surrounding slum clearance reduced the once dense population and new roads built in the 1970s cut the street off from main thoroughfares.70 The decline in following years and subsequent low rents on the street have meant that a multiracial mix of independent restaurants, food, musical instrument, electronics, mechanics, bicycle, hardware and repair shops, as well as numerous hair salons have been able to set up there. These businesses have become new social centres for the local community and many provide speciality goods and services not available elsewhere in the city. 66 Portas, p.3 67 Portas, p.3 68  Complex Development Projects, Far Gosford Street, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, 2012, p. 2 69  Interview between author and Joanne Truslove, 21 March 2013 70 Complex Development Projects, p. 21

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46 far gosford street

fargo village

tomorrow

the creative quarter

58

The Fargo Village development is intended to be the ‘anchor’ for the establishment retail destination. The concept of ‘the Village’ is the founding of a festival marketpla artists and performers – an alternative place that will be vibrant at weekends attrac around the sub-region. Coventry is a creative city, it has two universities and is a ce However, none of this is apparent to the casual visitor and Fargo Village is intended setting for start-up businesses and a showcase for all things alternative. The concep regeneration of city fringe areas such as Brick Lane in London and Manchester’s No fringe areas are now vibrant economies that belie their former dereliction. The mod area is different and Fargo Village will be very much part of Coventry. far gosford street today 37 The aim is to create a cool place to hang out and to visit, where you can buy alterna artistic products, eat street food, be entertained by street performance and art sho as a seedbed for local business talent and focus on growth sectors of product desig Fig 44: Images of Far Gosford Street by students from School of Art & Design, Coventry alternative “anti establishment” guise attracting the raw and the cutting edge.

04 far gosford street

University

tomorrow

No 58 is a two storey building with an odd monopitch roof with the gable end facing the street. It represents the surviving street-facing portion of what was originally a row of 14 Court dwellings known as 36 far gosford street today Victoria Place and later Court No9. During restoration, large stone blocks were discovered in the boundary wall with No 59. It is likely that these came from the dismantled town wall and are from an earlier building on the site. The stone has been retained in situ.

61-62

The temporary building on the adjoining bomb site (59/60) has been demolished and a new building constructed as part of THI Phase 1.

far gosford street tomorrow tomorrow 45 03

Images by students from School of Art & Design, Coventry University

fargo village The Fargo Village development is intended to be the ‘anchor’ for the establishment of the street as a creative retail destination. The concept of ‘the Village’ is the founding of a festival marketplace for designer makers, artists and performers – an alternative place that will be vibrant at weekends attracting people from around the sub-region. Coventry is a creative city, it has two universities and is a centre for innovation. However, none of this is apparent to the casual visitor and Fargo Village is intended to provide both a setting for start-up businesses and a showcase for all things alternative. The concept follows the successful regeneration of city fringe areas such as Brick Lane in London and Manchester’s Northern Quarter. These fringe areas are now vibrant economies that belie their former dereliction. The model is similar but each area is different and Fargo Village will be very much part of Coventry.

58

The aim is to create a cool place to hang out and to visit, where you can buy alternative and creative/ artistic products, eat street food, be entertained by street performance and art shows. The ‘Village’ will act as a seedbed for local business talent and focus on growth sectors of product design and media in an edgy alternative “anti establishment” guise attracting the raw and the cutting edge.

Images by students from School of Art & Design, Coventry University

No 58 is a two storey building with an odd monopitch

far gosford street today roof with gable end the street. It represents Fig 45: the Collages offacing proposals for ‘FarGo Village’

37

the surviving street-facing portion of what was originally a row of 14 Court dwellings known as Victoria Place and later Court No9. During restoration, large stone blocks were discovered in the boundary wall with No 59. It is likely that these came from the dismantled town wall and are from an earlier building on the site. The stone has been retained in situ.

58

58

The temporary building on the adjoining bomb site (59/60) has been demolished and a new building constructed as part of THI Phase 1.

The fine stained glass from the 1940’s denoting the The fine stained glass from the 1940’s denoting the No 58 is a two storey building with an odd monopitch roof with the gable endas facing the street. It represents will be reintroduced into shop as a Gents Outfitters will be reintroduced into shop a Gents Outfitters No 58 is a two storey building with an odd monopitch the surviving street-facing portion of what was the new building. the new building. originally a row of 14 Court dwellings known as roof with the gable end facing the street. It represents Victoria Place and later Court No9. During restoration, the surviving street-facing portion of what was st before the Fig 46: Reconstruction of no. 61-62 Fig 47: Renovation of no. 58 large stone blocks were discovered in the boundary originally a row of 14 Court dwellings known as ced. The derelict

ged by fire thatNos 61-62 were lost in 2003 just before the e new buildings regeneration project commenced. The derelict structed in buildings were so badly damaged by fire that large upper they had to be demolished. The new buildings s are used for now on the site have been constructed in University means pty upper floorstraditional ‘topshop’ style with large upper ted to studentfloor windows. The upper floors are used for housing. The proximity to the University means ment building was that much of the formerly empty upper floors hase 1.

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in the street have been converted to student accommodation. The replacement building was supported by grant from THI Phase 1.

far gosford s

wall with No 59. It is likely that these came from the dismantled town wall and are from an earlier building on the site. The stone has been retained in situ. The temporary building on the adjoining bomb site (59/60) has been demolished and a new building constructed as part of THI Phase 1. The fine stained glass from the 1940’s denoting the shop as a Gents Outfitters will be reintroduced into the new building.

Victoria Place and later Court No9. During restoration, large stone blocks were discovered in the boundary wall with No 59. It is likely that these came from the dismantled town wall and are from an earlier building on the site. The stone has been retained in situ. The temporary building on the adjoining bomb site (59/60) has been demolished and a new building constructed as part of THI Phase 1. The fine stained glass from the 1940’s denoting the shop as a Gents Outfitters will be reintroduced into the new building.

far gosford st


In the redevelopments, existing housing and shops from the 1600s to 1970s have been renovated and restored (shown in fig.43) and new offices, homes and retail units have been built in amongst the old. Surviving factory buildings are in the process of conversion to studio and office spaces for local design and creative media businesses, as well as a market hall with incubation spaces for new start-ups.71 This ‘FarGo Village’ is intended as an anchor for the project and ‘a seedbed for local business talent’ to showcase Coventry as ‘a centre for innovation.’72 The FarGo scheme also creates a brand for itself: as ‘the creative quarter’ of Coventry. Although perhaps representing a wider cross-section of the community than Jerde and Benoy proposals, it is by no means comprehensive of everything that the city centre needs, and many other businesses and larger retailers obviously also have an important role in serving the community. It must also be noted that although the historic architecture has survived on Far Gosford Street more by accident and neglect than by any prior attention or appreciation, emphasis and focus on ‘heritage’ is also key to the project’s approach. There is (as yet) little appreciation or affection for the ‘historical value’ of the post-war architecture of the precinct, and such careful and attentive treatment and improvement of the existing, as shown in figures 46-47, might be unlikely to transfer directly to the modernist architecture and large units of the precincts. Scale aside, the key difference between FarGo and Jerde ‘placemaking’ approaches is the source of the proposed ‘sense of place.’ Whilst the Jerde scheme proposes clearance of messy ‘low-quality’ businesses and buildings and replacement with brand new ‘high quality’ ones, the FarGo scheme values the minor, alternative and tumbledown aspects of the street, taking great care in restoring and patching them up whilst providing room for more to grow. Impressions by local students (fig.44) and collages of existing businesses and buildings (fig.45) make up the images of proposed renovations and new spaces, proudly presenting the newly re-branded multiracial ‘mess and montage’73 of the street.

71  Interview between author and Nicola Poole, (Far Gosford Street Development Services Project Manager) 5 April 2013 72  Complex Development Projects, p. 45 73  Hatherley, A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain, p. xxxiii

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Non-Visions FarGo highlights key characteristics and potential in the city, overlooked in the Jerde proposals, and possible ways in which they might be supported architecturally. Although the scheme will not bring the kind of commercial revenue that the Jerde proposal is intended to, its smaller scale and lower overheads are helping to support new businesses and growth from within the city, rather than relying on imported identities and external investment. This arguably embraces a more authentic and unique ‘sense of place’ for the area, highlighting and defining specific aspects of a ‘Coventry experience.’ If these small-scale economies could be supported in a larger strategy for the city centre, a new focus and ‘sense of place’ could perhaps be drawn out of the city. Croydon, like Coventry has been subjected to an enduring image as a ‘crap’ place and has also had several visions of new futures proposed for it by various masterplans over the years. Over the past five years, Croydon council has tried implementing an alternative ‘place-based’ approach to planning in the borough. The ‘placemaking team’, consisting of a mix of people from a variety of different disciplines, lead by architect Vincent Lacovara, has worked on developing responsive planning strategies for Croydon. A key aim for the placemaking team is to maintain ‘attachments’ and ‘sense of belonging’ for Croydon’s residents.74 The town has been divided into 16 ‘places’ based on where local people reported to have ‘attachment.’ Each ‘place,’ and its defined ‘sub-places’ have their own set of planning guidelines, based on its ‘distinct identity.’ In this way, any new development in Croydon should begin to reflect and reinforce the individual character of its specific location. Development is focused on areas where local residents reported a desire to affect change and briefs are developed based on the needs of existing businesses and landowners with aspirations to build, improve or expand, but with no means to do so. Croydon was also chosen as one of the Portas Pilots, and a new ‘placemaking team’ is currently working with Studio Weave architects on improvement of existing public spaces, pavements and shopfronts, integrating them to create more ‘usable space’ on the high street and aiming to transform the old town into a ‘thriving market, food and cultural quarter’75 Lacovara says that although the town is changing and so must change to respond, the council’s aim is to make Croydon ‘as good as it can 74  Interview between author and Vincent Lacovara, 19 April, 2013 75  Portas Pilots, www.maryportas.com (accessed 14 April 2013)

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Fig. 48 Live/Work Adaptation Insertion Unit

Facade Awning Frame Pinboard Walls

Staircase Unit Legible, Accessible Services

Sliding Roof Garden Cover Micro-Trubines

Water Storage Tank

66

treet

les S

ed u

n

Ha it on

rt Inse


be,’ rather than proposing any more transformative ‘visions.’76 Urban revival through small industries and economies, naturally occurring in declining areas and cheap buildings, seems to suggest that allowing organic growth in an un-planned way might present the best solution. Anna Minton observes, however, that what happens under ‘nonplans’ is that it allows ‘places developers want...when the market is given free reign to make places, the result is not the freedom and vitality that people want,’77 allowing markets, not people to make choices. If some kind of bottom-up alternative could be devised to reinforce existing strengths and support growth in the desired way, a positive and genuine ‘sense of place’ might be identified, defined and multiplied for Coventry. Empty retail and commerce space might be gradually adapted and converted incrementally to support and accommodate the city’s new economies. Small-scale interventions providing short-term working and trading spaces might encourage and maintain the ‘city diversity’ promoted by such figures as Jane Jacobs and Leonie Sandercock. Coventry and Warwick universities currently run an ‘Institute for Creative Enterprise’ to help graduate start-ups, providing low-rent incubation spaces.78 Making spaces like these more widely available, increasing visibility might highlight and showcase developing city economies, becoming permanent fixtures for temporary inhabitation on the high street. Figure 48 shows a proposal for a rapidly adaptable incubation unit (adapted as a hairdressers), built into an empty retail unit in Hales Street, providing legible, easily adaptable services and customisable structures. If successful in increasing footfall, small economies in turn may well also attract more of the ‘quality brands’ that the council wants in the centre. To avoid the kind of creeping gentrification of trendified areas (such as London’s Hoxton, or New York’s High Line), leading to eventual removal of the people at its roots, however, alternative solutions must be devised. Anna Minton also observes that although ‘councils and developers 76  Interview between author and Vincent Lacovara, 19 April, 2013 77  Anna Minton, Ground Control, p. 186 78  Interview between author and Nicola Poole, (Far Gosford Street Development Services Project Manager) 5 April 2013

67


Fig. 49: Conversion of abandoned city landmarks and emtpy shop units to house city’s micro-economies

68


appreciate that artists and creative people seem to have a good effect on places...rather than allowing parts of the city to remain open and flexible, the rapid sell-off of public land and buildings continues in the constant bid to raise revenue and property values.’79 Though arising from more deeply rooted foundations in the city, this route to increasing property ‘quality’ and value amounts to a similar city vision as the Jerde scheme proposes. Instead, Minton suggests a ‘move away from a profit-oriented city’80 focusing less on a consumerist shopping experience and more on the social experience of cities. The departure of big name stores from the high street and increase in vacant space might provide the opportunity to turn away from a ‘profit-oriented’ city centre. Jan Gehl, widely credited for the transformation and re-animation of Copenhagen claims this was done through a shift of focus from shopping alone to social activities and spaces: planning for people, not profit.81 Anna Minton also advocates more ‘shared space’ and ‘flexible spaces’ to be integrated into our cities to encourage more natural communication. One scheme currently being implemented in Croydon, alongside physical high street improvements is the co-ordination of facility-sharing to cut costs for local businesses and start ups as well as developing social networks.82 Shared facilities and spaces might help establish and strengthen social and economical networks as well as helping to keep costs down for small enterprises. Flexible, multiple-use spaces might also accommodate possible ‘future changes’ in demands. Figure 49 shows a proposal for the revival of Coventry city centre, centred around the integration of developing industries and public spaces. Old city landmarks are converted to house the city’s micro-economies and industries, drawing them in from the fringes of the centre to inhabit empty spaces and city landmarks. Rather than planting new ‘iconic’ architecture, this aims to anchor them physically in recognised features, integrating them into a reinforced ‘sense of place.’

79  Minton, p. 190 80  Minton, p. 193 81  Jan Gehl,Cities for People, p. 1-19 82  Interview between author and Vincent Lacovara, 19 April, 2013

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Fig. 50: Conversion of abandoned Medeival Grammar School into flexible ‘coffee shop’ offices for creative start-ups, opening onto public canopied street space.

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Fig. 51: Conversion of abandoned Draper’s Hall into shared workshop spaces

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Fig. 52 Coventry Canteen and kiosk ‘foodway’ 72


Figure 50 shows the proposed conversions of abandoned ‘Old Grammar School’ to short-term meeting/work spaces with shared printing, internet and hotel facilities for start-up businesses. Figure 51 shows abandoned ‘Draper’s Hall,’ opposite Coventry University campus into open workshops, with events space and market halls for Coventry’s creative start-ups and new textile industry. Figure 52 shows a proposal for the conversion of empty office block, Coventry point, between the market and central fountain, into a culinary development centre for small businesses and precinct ‘foodway’ with deployable kiosks, providing development spaces, integrating them into the public realm and defining the area as a culinary destination for the city. Increased integration of businesses, shared facilities and public space in this way gives enhanced and mutually beneficial purpose to each: giving focus for public space whilst showcasing the city’s industries, highlighting, strengthening and multiplying a newly defined ‘sense of place’ for the city.

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Conclusion: PlaceMaking and Un-Making If our city centres are to survive as the social and economical focus of our cities in the future, their purpose and function must evolve. With forces beyond the control of local or even national governance, change must be embraced rather than challenged. Plans for the future of Coventry city centre must recognise and respect developing and transforming cultures, values and ways of life of the people of the city if they are to have any longterm success. Although plenty of lip-service is paid to ‘sense of place’, ‘character,’ ‘community’ etc. in written proposals for the new masterplan, values of ‘place’ described by the images represent only the ‘official’ imported Jerde version of what Coventry should be. Humanist observations of figures like Jacobs, Lynch and Whyte have been skewed and contorted into a contrived set of standardized criteria for how to make a city. Although arising from critique of the failures of post-war planning, this set of artificially worthy ‘placemaking’ principles ultimately amount to a similar thing, proposing a newly manufactured future to paste over an undesirable present. In this ‘wipe clean’ approach, Coventry’s problems have tended to be exaggerated and consolidated into one overall ‘city problem.’ This ‘city problem’ is automatically brushed over all associated physical architecture to the extent that the entire city fabric becomes the offending article. Any ageing, ‘out-dated’ or abandoned spaces are automatically blamed, so must be wiped out. Aspects of the city, not considered ‘desirable’ are either dismissed, ignored, or prevented from developing altogether, through demolition and ‘improvement,’. This overlooking of the existing condition has lead city council and planners to repeated erasure of what in fact might be the most interesting and potentially promising aspects of the city. Though mistakes have undoubtedly been made in past planning decisions in the city, an attempt to simply erase ‘failed’ architecture denies and dismisses any of its successes. This architectural pasting-over demolishes existing social and psychological structures interwoven with a place, and repetition of this consequently destroys, rather than creates ‘sense of place.’ Coventry’s perceived lack of ‘sense of place’ therefore is not simply a result of the (frequently blamed) ‘failed’ architecture of the past but has in fact occurred through this self-perpetuating quest for new artificial identities. 74


Rather than basing its future on a generic ‘successful UK city’ model, the existing realities of the city, however seemingly unglamorous or insignificant should be considered. People who live, work or shop in the city centre on a regular basis will have their own values of place, whether they represent the desirable ‘place’ the council wants to promote or not. Only through embracing the city as it is, warts and all, can previously overlooked and potentially promising ‘strengths’ be unearthed. Coventry, with its history of re-invention and innovation might embrace current changes in economical tides and challenge accepted ideas to develop a unique direction for the city. To re-promote the city as the pioneering, forward thinking place it wants to be, a responsive and innovative design solution should be developed. New migrant communities along with a large population of skilled graduates and entrepreneurs are driving innovation in the city. Support of this innovation and growth alongside integration with long-established spaces and habits of city life could therefore present a promising new direction for the city. To support a genuine ‘sense of place’ for Coventry, its new architecture should respond to the city as it is, whilst facilitating and supporting development from within the city, rather than coaxing investment from elsewhere. A strategy for the future of Coventry city centre should be less about place-making, but more about unearthing, highlighting and strengthening existing aspects of its ‘sense of place’ for a fitting and sustainable future.

75


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Bibliography: Benoy Architects and Coventry City Council, Coventry City Centre Redevelopment Masterplanning presentation, (2012) Elizabeth Cox et al., Reimagining the high street, Escape from Clone Town Britain, (London: New Economics Foundation, 2010) F Adrian Forty and Susanne Kuchler (eds), The Art of Forgetting (Oxford: Oxford International Publishers, 1999, 2001) Berci Florian et al, Onder Redactive (eds), City Branding, Image Building and Building Images, (Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 2002) C.E. Fudge, Colour in Shopping, A Visual Survey, British Paint Prize, 1968 Ronald Lee Fleming, The Art of Placemaking, Interpreting Community Through Public Art and Urban Design, (New York: Merrell, 2007) Jan Gehl, Cities For People, (Washington: Island Press, 2010) Andrew W. Gilg, Planning in Britain. Understanding & Evaluating the PostWar System (London: Sage Publcations, 2005) Crimson, Pedro Gadanho et al, Post. Rotterdam, Architecture and City after the tabula rasa, (Porto, 010 Publishers, 2001) Donald E. E. Gibson, Plan For the City Centre, The Architect and Building News, (21 March 1941), Owen Hatherley, A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain, (London: Verso, 2010) Owen Hatherley, Militant Modernism, (Winchester: O Books, 2008) Patsy Healy, Collaborative Planning, Shaping Places in Fragmented Societies (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1997, 2006) Peter Hall, Cities of Tomorrow, An Intellectual history of urban planning and design in the twentieth century, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1988) Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Failure of Town Planning, (New York: Random House, 1961)

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Peter Blundell Jones, Doina Petrescu, Jeremy Till, (Eds.) Architecture & Participation, (New York: Taylor & Francis Group, 2005) Junichi Hasegawa, Re-Planning the Blitzed Centre: A comparative study of Bristol, Coventry and Southampton, 1941-1950 (Buckingham: Open University Press, 1992) Kevin Lynch, Image of The City, (Massachusetts, MIT and Harvard University Press, 1960, 1972) Anna Minton, Ground Control, (London: Penguin Books, 2009) Mary Murphy, (ed), Clone Town Britain (London: New Economics Foundation, 2005) Julian Oram, Molly Conisbee, Andrew Simms, Ghost Town Britain, Death of the High Street, The New Economics Foundation, 2003 OMA, Small, Medium, Large, Extra-Large, (New York: The Monacelli Press, 1995) J.B. Priestley, An English Journey, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1933) Michelle Provoost el al (Crimson Architectural Historians), (WiMBY! (Welcome into My Backyard!), (Rotterdam, NAi Publishers, 2001) Michelle Provoost, (ed.) (Crimson Architectural Historians), WiMBY! Hoogvliet, Future, Past and Present of a New Town, (Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 2007) E. Relph, Place and Placelessness, (London: Pion Limited, 1976) Aldo Rossi The Architecture of The City, (New York: The MIT Press, 1982) Kester Rattenbury (ed) This Is Not Architecture, (New York: Routledge, 2002) Leonie Sandercock, Cosmopolis 11: Mongrel Cities of the 21st Century (London: Continuum, 2003) 78

William H. Whyte‏, Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, (New York: Project for Public Spaces,1980)


Journals/Articles: Anon, ‘Coventry Arcade’s Design Award,’ Coventry Evening Telegraph, (11 November 1963) Anon, ‘Gamble that paid off for city’, Coventry Telegraph (19 April 2001) Rigby Childs and D.A.C.A Boyne (eds), A Survey by Rigby Childs and D.A.C.A Boyne of Coventry, The Architects’ Journal (October 8, 1953) The Jerde Partnership, cited in ‘City centre set for billion pound transformation’, Coventry Telegraph, (18 January, 2008) PricewaterhouseCoopers in partnership with the Local Data Companycited in Dominic Harris, Retail chains shut 20 shops a day, The Independent, (28 February 2013) Les Reid, ‘Multi-million pound revamp planned for Coventry’s “hated” Cathedral Lanes’, Coventry Telegraph, (3 August 2012) Websites: Coventry City Council, Coventry City Centre South redevelopment plans unveiled, Wednesday 8 February, 2012, www.coventry.gov.uk/ citycentresouth (accessed 22 March 2013) The Jerde Partnership, www.jerde.com/regions/place71.html (accessed 17 March 2013) Mary Portas, The Portas Review, 2011, www.maryportas.com (accessed 26 March 2013) Michael Aukett Architects, www.michaelaukett.com (accessed 19 April 2013) BCG Uk, www.bbc.co.uk/news/business (accessed 23 March 2013) Benoy, www.benoy.com (accessed 10 March, 2013)

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Films: The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, (William H. Whyte‬, 1980) Interviews: Interview between author and Karen, (co-owner of ‘The Cutting Room and Bus Stop Café’) (3 April 2013) Interview between author and Vincent Lacovara, (19 April, 2013) Interview between author and Nicola Poole, (Far Gosford Street Development Services Project Manager), (5 April 2013) Interview between author and Joanne Truslove, (21 March 2013) Conversations between author and Coventry city centre business owners and stallholders, (3-4 April 2013)

Acknowledgements: With Thanks to Daisy Froud, Izaskun Chinchilla, Carlos Jimenez, Vincent Lacovara, Nicola Poole, Joanne Truslove, David Cass and Lisa West.

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Image References: All images not referenced below were taken by the author Fig 1: EDINA Digimap Service, digimap.edina.ac.uk, (accessed 2nd January 2013) Fig 2: (title page 5), The Jerde Partnership, 2008 Fig 3: The Jerde Partnership, 2008 Fig 4: The Jerde Partnership, 2008 Fig 5: Bryan R. Connell, ‘Impression of Coventry of the Future’ Coventry Planning Office Christmas Card, 1946 Fig 6: Night view of new Coventry Masterplan, The Jerde Partnership, 2008 Fig 7: Donald Gibson Architects, ‘New Coventry,’ The Architect and Building News, 21st March 1941 Fig 8: ‘Suggested Plan for Redevelopment of Central Area,’ The Future of Coventry Exhibition booklet pullout, 1945, p.20 Fig 9: ‘Slum Property to be cleared’- The Future of Coventry Exhibition booklet, 1945, p.8 Fig 10: Cover of Coventry City Council’s city booklet, Plan for the new Coventry, 1945, Coventry Archives Fig 11: Photograph from The Future of Coventry Exhibition, 1945, Coventry Archives Fig 12: Photograph from The Future of Coventry Exhibition, 1945, Coventry Archives Fig 13-14: Benoy, Stoke Sentral, http://www.benoy.com/projects/citysentral-stoke-trent-uk (accessed 19 April 2013) Figs 15-16: Benoy, Wokingham Town Centre, www.benoy.com/projects/ wokingham-town-centre-wokingham-uk (accessed 19 April 2013) Fig 17: Benoy, Coventry City Council, Coventry City Centre Redevelopment Masterplanning, p 13 Fig 18: The Jerde Partnership, 2008 Fig 19: The Jerde Partnership, 2008 Fig 20: Benoy, Coventry City Council, Coventry City Centre Redevelopment Masterplanning, p 14 Fig 23: Bing Maps, www.bing.com/maps (acessed 19 April, 2013) Fig 24: The Jerde Partnership, 2008 Fig 25: The Jerde Partnership, 2008 Fig 26: Benoy, Coventry City Council, Coventry City Centre Redevelopment

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Masterplanning, p 15 Fig 27: The Jerde Partnership, 2008, (overlaid with existing) city plan Fig 28: The Jerde Partnership, 2008 Fig 30: Benoy, Coventry City Council, Coventry City Centre Redevelopment Masterplanning, p 13 Fig 31: Benoy, Coventry City Council, Coventry City Centre Redevelopment Masterplanning, p 15 Fig 33: Hertford Street, The Future of Coventry Exhibition booklet, 1945 Fig 34: Benoy, Coventry City Council, Coventry City Centre Redevelopment Masterplanning, p 17 Fig 35: Arcade model photo, Arcade With Roof Parking Will be First in Britain, Coventry Evening Telegraph, 20 December 1960 Fig 36: The Jerde Partnership, 2008 Fig 44: Images of Far Gosford Street by students from School of Art & Design, Coventry University, Complex Development Projects, Far Gosford Street, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, 2012, p. 46 Fig 45: FarGo village, Complex Development Projects, Far Gosford Street, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, 2012, p. 45 Fig 46: FarGo village, Complex Development Projects, Far Gosford Street, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, 2012, p. 36 Fig 47: FarGo village, Complex Development Projects, Far Gosford Street, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, 2012, p. 37

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Contents Introduction:

Coventry’s Identity Crisis...................................................................................2

Part 1: ‘The Jerde Vision’.................................................................................................5 ‘PlaceMaking’.....................................................................................................................8 Jerde Masterplan Principles: 1) ‘To build on the existing strength and character of Coventry to ensure that future development reflects the pride of its people............................................11 A History of Futures.................................................................................................................13 Post-War Re-Construction....................................................................................................15 Bits and Pieces............................................................................................................................20 2) ‘To create a unique identity and sense of place for Coventry as a hub for the whole West Midlands and Warwickshire district’.......................................................23 Comparative Regeneration.................................................................................................25 New Icon: The Purple Egg....................................................................................................27 Old Icon: Coventry Market...................................................................................................29 3) ‘To design a flexible framework to adapt and accommodate future demands over the long term development of the City.................................................................33 Quality Retail.....................................................................................................................................35 Micro-Economies............................................................................................................................39 Differences ........................................................................................................................................55

Part 2: Start-Up City.......................................................................................................57

People Watching Coventry...........................................................................................................39 FarGo.....................................................................................................................................................61 Non-Visions........................................................................................................................................69

Conclusion

PlaceMaking and Un-Making.............................................................................................74

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