The Vision of the City Centre

From 'The Story of the Original CMK'

We wanted to see a complete city

Alan Duff

Derek Walker’s vision was…a ‘City Club’ with a range of restaurants, bars and other activities – all under one roof. It would be absolutely brilliant. You could come from all around the country and there’d be everything going on. Didn’t exist in those days. It did in his mind and he’s proved to be right but it wasn’t available in the marketplace. There weren’t enough people around and no financial institution would ever invest the hundreds of millions necessary to create a building to be let entirely for leisure purposes. It wouldn’t work… The drive for all (that) came from within the Corporation. We wanted to see a complete city… we didn’t think it had a heart without those facilities. But was it a barrier to anyone investing? Not at all. Were staff reluctant to move up with their firms because we didn’t have a museum or a theatre? No. There was no expectation for these facilities.

The Users would be attracted by its excellence

Jan Blackhall

Road safety was very important. The vision was (in) a major shopping and commercial centre with a lot of activity 24/7, all the highway assets had to perform (both) for motorists and pedestrians. Junctions, sight lines, marking, direction signals – all that regulatory equipment needed to be integrated. The premise was that users would be attracted by its excellence and be able to see where they were going. The place started with very little street signage, deliberately.

‘Car-parks are a legitimate feature of street life’

David Lock

Why do you put the cars on the outside of the ‘blocklets’ instead of the inside? (Firstly) car-parking was conceived as free, public parking – not as private car-parks. The logic and practicality of putting private parking inside the courtyard (is) ‘that’s mine, I possess that.’ If your attitude is giving everybody equal access to everywhere and free of charge, (you’d) want to put the cars by the front door where everybody can get to them with equal right. Secondly, (in the) early 70’s, human beings appeared to be forever in love with a personal movement pod, (using) cars a lot. 100 years ago, people on horses or in carts made street-life busy with traffic. In a modern city, it’s people in their cars – you celebrate that as a street activity, and put the cars in the street. People’s comings and goings make that street lively, animated, full of colour, inhabited. Cars (are not) stuck round the back by the dustbins, but a legitimate feature of street life, a functioning part of everyday living. A very positive feature.

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