The Desire Path
This academic year I have studied how the shopping centre crisis has affected the town centres, with a specific focus in Shrewsbury. This interest arose after identifying a problem of movement, density and identity in a site in Shrewsbury where three shopping centres where built adjacent to each other. When visitors arrive into the town centre from Frankwell footbridge, they land on the Riverside Shopping Centre which is currently almost vacant. The lack of a sense of place produced by shopping centres makes the visitor feel lost, not knowing where they have landed and how to get to the High Street. The council plans to demolish the Riverside Shopping Centre to convert it to a new one, however, I thought there was a missed opportunity to re-use this building and design something specific to its context.
I was inspired by Gordon Matta Clark's apertures to carve a new path through the Darwin and Riverside Shopping Centres. This not only aims to guide the visitor to the town centre but to reveal typical characteristics of Shrewsbury’s architecture in the design; such as its skyline and public squares. In doing so, I revealed and brought back a sense of security by improving the public realm through the historical 70 steps which had been hidden between the shopping centre walls in the past years. Additionally, in re-using the Darwin Shopping Centre, I have based my design on the triangular geometries found in traditional Tudor architecture. However, I wanted to express these shapes in a contemporary manner and provide permeability through the building mass, fitting the buildings new use; Shrewsbury’s University Centre. The university already owns a building adjacent to Frankwell's car park, thus, I saw this as an opportunity to expand its facilities and reconnect the students with the town centre.