Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Speaking with locals

I have been collating all the results and comments that I received from my survey I conducted with local independent business owners. The survey has proven a worthwhile task and will prove very useful in sharing these issues through my project.

Some interesting comments considered the need for building another shopping centre rather than utilizing current architecture around the high street. Many felt unsupported by the local council, a feeling that their was more interest in big chain stores than a diverse selection of locally ran businesses.

These comments will be very useful in forming some of my information graphics.

Negletcted High Street?

Whilst this is not one of the worst examples I've photographed, it still strikes me as totally unprofessional. These blinds have been like that for months with all sorts of assorted rubbish in view. It really is an eye sore.

Towards the West End of Union Street this vacant unit's sign is incomplete and the lettings in the window faded from age. The West End has a particularly high rate of vacant units and many are in need of work.

Market Street, one of the main routes to the new Union Square shopping centre has many eye sores. If it's not the horrible appearance of the neglected Market it's the dirty signage like this Bhs sign. 

Towards Castle Gate, across the road from E&M's. This shops sign has fallen down and has remained like this for a long time. Just across the road one half of the old E&M's building is supposed to be getting turned into a classy Jamie Oliver restaurant. 

E&M's building has remained vacant since its closure in 2007, moss and weeds are sprouting from all over the building. Yet the council have placed posters, "Regenerating Aberdeen" all around the building. Seems a tad ironic to say the least... even these boards are getting a bit grubby.

Then & Now


Using imagery collected from the Central Library I started the tedious task of finding the locations of these old shop fronts and comparing to what exists their today. These are a few examples of the ones I've managed to locate.

Interesting how the To Let/For Sale sign on "Union Street Sale" and "Peacocks" has landed up on the same window!

What has been ultimately interesting about these comparisons is seeing how local/independent businesses have been replaced by the big chains that we see dominating the occupied units of Union Street today.

2012 Union Street

Focusing on Union Street, as part of my research I have documented the vacant units and their current condition.

I have also looked at what kind of shops are currently trading from Union Street, to no surprise it's mainly occupied by big chains. Some with multiple stores.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Mary Portas independent review into future of high streets

Image from Mary Portas website

Mary Portas has appeared in the media a lot over saving the high street and her ideas to do this. She has also had television programs highlighting the issues of the high street. Having had a quick look through her review it contains lots of useful information and statistics that I could use in my project.

Really like the illustrations on Mary Portas website, they have a nice energetic vibe. That's how the high streets should be!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The changing British high street

Searching Google for some information on the British high street I found this animation created by someone also studying Graphic Design. The animation is simply a scrolling high street showing an evolution from the old independent shops, to the big brands taking over. For example taking a classy looking fashion outlet called 'Tailor' and replacing it with 'Primark' as the animation scrolls by.

This is a very clever idea. It's simple but visually illustrates the change that most if not all of Britain's high streets are facing. It fits in nicely with what my project is looking at and could be quite good inspiration into my own project development.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Bruce millers over the years

Bruce Millers first shop, George St (1900-1977)

Bruce Millers, Loch St (1983-1983)

Bruce Millers, Union St (1983-2011)

It's interesting to look at the changes to the shop frontage over the years, symbolizing changes in consumerism and the graphics that appealed. 

Monday, 16 January 2012

The future of our high streets?

It doesn't take much searching to find an empty shop unit on Aberdeen's busiest high street, union street. I walked the length of union street with my camera to document these, below are a few of the empty units.
Bruce Millers Jan 2012

One of the more recent and iconic names to close its doors was Bruce Millers. 111 years of trading in Aberdeen came to an end on the 6th June 2011. Leaving another hole in union street.

Unit on Union Street, Aberdeen. Jan 2012
Union street is supposed to be Aberdeen's busiest high street, it's supposed to be the heart of shopping in Aberdeen. Yet units like this are being left in very poor condition and really do impact on the visual appeal of the high street. The windows are dirty, out of date posters, out of date properties being advertised and incomplete signage. This doesn't look welcoming and impacts on the appeal of the surrounding shops.

Esslemont & Macintosh Jan 2012
Ever since this department store closed on the 5th May 2007 this huge retail unit has laid empty. It currently has council messages on the boarded up windows. It really does look awful and situated near the likes of marischal college it is terrible.

Unit on Union St Jan 2012
Are high streets destined for failure?