18 March 2015 – ‘retrofitting suburbia’: the changing US shopping mall

There is an interesting article (and full audio recording) by Noel King on Marketplace (26 Feb). She talks about the changing use of many US shopping malls as traditional anchor stores relocate back in to city centres and on to busy urban streets. Noel King talks about ‘retrofitting suburbia’ and visits Duluth, Minnesota to find malls also being used by walkers as exercise ‘yards’ and she talks of others being used to house police precincts, health centres and fire stations. There are others that target specific groups of shoppers as ‘ethnic malls’ and she visits the Santa Fe mall that targets Hispanic shoppers, providing its own radio station, a large food precinct, health centre etc.

If you want to hear the full audio version, it is here


11 February 2015 – Renewing old markets

The Urbact blog is part of an EU initiative that provides a platform for sharing ideas on current urban issues and innovative solutions for cities in Europe and in the world – one aspect features urban markets. There is an interesting article,’Renewing old markets – a tool for cities’, written by Núria Costa. She mentions that the project will be publishing a ‘Market Handbook’ and says, “this will present the benefits and opportunities that markets offer and some examples of good practices in participating cities: Attica, Barcelona, ​​Dublin, London, Pecs, Suceava, Turin, Toulouse and Wroclaw”.

You can read more here

18 January 2015 – the future of food markets and the inflating shopping list

BBC radio 4 has broadcast two good programmes today – The Future of Food Markets on the Food Programme that you can listen to here and The Inflating Shopping Basket – you can listen to here. The Future of Food Markets has pieces on the new Markthal in Rotterdam, featured in recent posts on this blog, and new developments at London’s Covent Garden wholesale market and Leicester’s vibrant traditional market. The programme has interesting reflections on the changing, but pivotal role of food markets as food provisioning systems adapt and innovate. The second programme on The Inflating Shopping Basket is a fascinating piece on how changing food shopping habits and trends can be traced through the annual analysis of the Consumer Price Index. It rings a lot of bells about changing food choices from post second world war to what (and where) people are buying today. It put me in mind of something written by John Thompson in 2010 – Milk, Eggs, Arugula, Identity – about the ‘new’ everyday. If you are interested, you can read it here

11 January 2015 – impacts of change at Tesco

The UK supermarket Tesco announced plans to turnaround declining sales earlier this week. These include the decision to abandon plans for new stores in at least 49 locations, together with closure of unprofitable stores. The Guardian website has graphic photos of what the impact of the abandoned plans will have on the high street in Dartford, Kent where Tesco has put pressure for 11 years to build an 86,000 sq ft store and where demolition of local shops has already taken place – this includes a family butcher that had been operating for 104 years. Theses announcements may have helped Tesco’s share price but the ripples for local communities are much more profound. You can read more here

6 January 2015 – Rotterdam markthal: food for thought part 2




What is the identity/function of the new Markthal in Rotterdam? It seems conflicted. Creating a tourist destination seems high on the list and there is a stand selling brightly coloured souvenirs; and traders have used their imagination to create structures like the ‘log cabin’ selling soup, that even comes with a rope swing for children to play on.

But this is also a ‘temple of modernity’ with supermarkets taking a high proportion of the retail space and fresh food within the market space is presented rather too perfectly for me. I’ll write more about the food on sale in both markets next.

3 January 2015 – Rotterdam Markthal: food for thought


I’ve just been to Rotterdam Markthal and it’s given me plenty to think about – you can see how the old traditional market sits in front of the new building. I wonder what it’s like floating above it and living in one of the flats ? The inner facade doesn’t disappoint – it is spectacular! But, despite the freezing rain, all the real food shopping still seemed to be taking place outside in the old outdoor market that people have been using for years. I’m going to follow-up with some more thoughts and photos.


2 December 2014 – popular food markets in Europe

The UK Guardian website has a short piece that recommends popular food markets in Europe. It puts the new Markthal in Rotterdam at the top of the list (see listing for 4 October) – I’m planning a trip in the New Year to see for myself.
You can read the article here: http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/dec/01/top-10-food-markets-europe-berlin-vienna-london