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Ellen Brown

Design, University of Warwick

Thesis title:

From post-war to post-Covid: Shifts in the Design and Vision of the Shopping Centre Experience

As physical retail spaces verge on becoming historic relics, this project investigates how post-war shopping centres and precincts (often de-facto town centres) were envisioned, how these typologies have been used over time alongside changing economic and political shifts, with a view of exploring the future of brick-and-mortar retail. The evolution in design and use of shopping spaces since modernity has been the focus of scholarly attention through the 20th and 21st centuries across history, urban studies, geography and anthropology. This project combines art historical literature with in-depth visual analyses of architectural forms to shape a post-Covid theory of Britain’s shopping landscape at a point of its ‘becoming and disappearing’, to powerphrase Walter Benjamin’s term used to explain the nineteenth-century arcade. Coupled with the rise of e-commerce and virtual shopping, shopping typologies must adapt or face abandonment. By focusing on the (re)production of spaces of consumption over time, I aim to shape a dialogue around how ‘authenticity’ and ‘materiality’ impact urban planning and the design of shopping typologies.

Research Area

  • Architecture History, Theory and Practice
  • Design

Other Research Interests

  • Architecture and photography
  • Material and visual culture