Rotterdam and London – As London’s famous retail strip, Oxford Street, seeks to rebuild interest amid easing pandemic restrictions, Westminster City Council has unveiled a viewpoint and visitor attraction in the adjacent area of Marble Arch. Taking the form of a 25-metre tall artificial hill, The Marble Arch Mound is a ticketed experience for people to experience 360-degree views of the city and enjoy a café, shop and exhibition space.
The temporary installation created by architects MVRDV provides a new tourism destination while injecting greenery and space to rest into the area. In an age when bricks-and-mortar retailers are finding it challenging to attract footfall, this activation reflects the ways in which brands are commodifying outdoor space to foster play, exploration and community.
Looking beyond its positive implications for retailers in the area, this project also echoes the ideas we explore in Equilibrium Cities, in which urban centres are transforming into blended cultural realms to give citizens a reason to go back into cities.
Future city planners have an opportunity to work with retailers on branded or sponsored third spaces that attract audiences beyond traditional shopfronts and tourist sites.