Bricks • Mortar • Imagination • Words

Introduction - Bluewater

Many would consider that spending five full days in Europe's largest indoor shopping complex was a shortcut to severe mental derangement. Yorkshire based writer Steve Dearden, co-ordinator of the National Association for Literature Development and a writer of short stories and experimental fiction, took just such a risk. Bluewater Shopping Centre, near the junction of the M25 London Orbital and the M2 in Kent, is a retail and leisure 'town' built in a disused chalk quarry. Conceived by American civic architect, Eric Kuhne, and opened to the public in 1999, its three malls are styled like balconied streets with ornamental balustrades on two floors under glass-sided dome roofs. With over 330 stores, 50 restaurants, 300 CCTV cameras and an on-site police station, surrounded by 50 acres of landscaped parkland, the place intrigued Steve as a 'linear city' that was (in Le Corbusier's words) "the expression of a preconceived and predetermined plan embodying the then known principles of the science".

He arrived at Bluewater to make notes, take photographs and record voices during the Bank Holiday weekend of the Queen's Golden Jubilee, leaving on the day of the World Cup football match between England and Argentina.

Arts Council England
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