Coventry in West Midlands, England, United Kingdom
The Architect’s Vision
‘One of the finest shopping centres in the world’
The shopping precinct in Coventry has been recognised as a model for a number of similar centres throughout the world. It was the world's first large scale pedestrianised shopping area.
By the end of the 1930s Coventry had outgrown its city centre. The population had become far greater than that with which its still largely medieval central area and road system could cope. It soon became dear that the only adequate answer would be an extensive reconstruction but there was neither the legislation nor the finance available to make this a practical proposition.
In 1938, 29 year old Donald Gibson was appointed City Architect. Gibson was the first architect Coventry had ever had. He was filled with a drive and enthusiasm to experiment and also a care for the way people should live. He was surrounded by a small dedicated team and his grand scheme started to take shape for the redesign of the congested city centre.
He believed there was a need to get away from he ideas that motor traffic and pedestrians must mix together in a shopping street.
If it had not been for the terrible blitz by the Luftwaffe he may never have had the opportunity to make his ideas a reality. However with large areas levelled by the bombing he had the chance to start with a relatively clean sheet.
The central theme of his plan was a precinct of shops to which there would be motor access to the rear for service vehicles. The idea was to bring back the comfortable and more spacious days when wandering from shop to shop was not done at the mercy of vehicles. Coventry's pedestrian precinct was designed to be aligned with the cathedral spire of St. Michael's. The use of a spire as an architectural vista was later copied by both Hanover and Japan. Two storey shops were developed in order to get more shops into a smaller walking distance. This tier system was based on Chester's Rows. The precinct was largely completed by the end of 1955.
“If you cannot put up buildings of your own time, you might as well forget it. A town must live, you cannot wait until fashions change.“ Donald Gibson
Gibson and Coventry were seen to be pioneers in urban planning as the radically different face of their city centre took shape.
Location. 52° 24.483′ N, 1° 30.681′ W. Marker is in Coventry, England, in West Midlands. Marker can be reached from Greyfriar’s Lane just from High Street, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Located in City Center Plaza. Marker is at or near this postal address: 54/56 Broadgate, Coventry, England CV1 1NF, United Kingdom. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Dame Ellen Terry (here, next to this marker); Donald Gibson CBE (here, next to this marker); Godiva (within shouting distance of this marker); The Lychgate Cottages (about 150 meters away, measured in a direct line); Lady Godiva’s Cathedral (about 180 meters away); The South West Tower (about 180 meters away); County Hall (about 180 meters away); Golden Cross Inn (about 180 meters away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Coventry.
Also see . . . Donald Gibson (architect) on Wikipedia. (Submitted on October 10, 2018, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.)
Categories. • Architecture •
Credits. This page was last revised on October 10, 2018. This page originally submitted on October 10, 2018, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut. This page has been viewed 33 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on October 10, 2018, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.