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Birmingham City University

Sara Cundy, Daniel Shaw, Mary Deguara, Elisabeth Jones, Charlie Morris

The woe of the declining high-street has been well documented over the
last decade. The Covid-19 pandemic, has accelerated the shift in the
balance of retail space, online sales now account for a third of overall retail
spending (Visavadia, H. 2021). Chain stores that once typified the
clone-town streetscape are leaving.

What is the scope for the future ‘local’ high-street and how will types of
exchange: social, cultural, community, political alongside the economic
evolve? Local high-streets are recognised as key spaces, fostering
connections and acting as a glue for the physical community that
surrounds them.

Lessons from Covid-19, show that independent retailers re-found their
niche. They coped better, being able to dynamically respond into the needs of their neighbourhood. Evidenced in a lower rate of closure of physical stores than their chain-store counterparts (Eley, J. 2020).

Our proposal sites a pod augmented with an app, called ‘The Fold’, within
a redesigned local high-streetscape. The Fold; community owned and
democratically programmed, provides a blank canvas for the community to literally and metaphorically project its needs and uses. Taking inspiration from independent retailers, it would be a dynamic and flexible space, that facilitates a myriad of forms of exchange with unlimited potential.