The Hygienic Flatpack
On two counts, the Churchill Square redevelopment offers a dramatic improvement on its predecessor. Firstly, shoppers are now sheltered from the ever-charming English weather; secondly, the toilet facilities are reasonably pleasant.
The good news ends there, unfortunately. For me, the transition from the old to the new is copied by one from the sublime to the ridiculous. Where the old Churchill Square was grey and battered and crumbling, the new is white and gleaming and seemingly so hygienic that you could eat your dinner from the floor. When it is closed for the night, it is hard to imagine that the slightest trace of human life remains.
For those who desire an entirely anaesthetised, blindingly clean shopping experience, this is presumably a joy; for those of us who prefer life without a permanent headache induced by air conditioning and gleaming lights on polished marble, the whole place is best avoided as much as possible. Thankfully, Brighton retains plenty of attractive, welcoming shopping alternatives elsewhere.
Even so, Churchill Square dominates Brighton’s shopping areas. And yet it is completely out of sync with the city’s unique character and ethos, as if it were designed for the benefit of people who don’t actually like Brighton, who want to pretend that they’re somewhere else. What could be less ‘Brighton’ than a development full of chainstores, the same chainstores that are found on every high street in the country? What could be less ‘Brighton’ than a building that might’ve been constructed from a flatpack, identical to every recent shopping centre in every town?
To be put it more kindly, my Brighton and Hove is elsewhere.