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
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.