This summer, while out desperately searching for a basket for my bicycle, I made my first ever trip to the Gran Via 2 shopping centre only to be met by a 6m² sign hanging from one of the sides of the temple. The frieze bears the text “Carrefour Planet” and my first impression was that maybe the name was the ironic choice of some disgruntled advertising agent who had a beef with the company. In other words, on reading the title, nobody would feel like contributing to this food distribution monopoly… It would be like Zara changing its name to “Ortega-Inditex Monopolies”; that would be a little too obvious, wouldn’t it? Following the Karakia star and upon recommendation from Erik Cremers, I chose Hungry City by architect Carolyn Steel for holiday reading. And since returning, I cannot help but look at the city from a different perspective now.
Steel, who works in a firm of architects, combines her non-executive director’s position at Kilburn Nightingale Architects with lecturing and research into the inner lives of cities. In particular, Steel has developed tangential research into urban design relating to the way cities have been transformed since the appearance of supermarkets. I would strongly recommend the book and personally, it reconciled me with an aspect of the profession; that of the architect observer and ponder on the complex city, something I find motivating.