I recently gave a short talk at the symposium following the Atrium’s empty shops project. This is a write up of my notes for that talk.

I’ve lived in Cardiff for half my life. I’ve steadily fallen in love with the city since I first arrived and have been lucky enough to live everywhere from Cathays to Penarth and worked from Fairwater to the Bay. And as a result it’s the only UK city that I can ever see myself living in. Berlin, Tokyo, Melbourne and San Francisco all appeal to me. But I’d take Cardiff over London, Manchester, Birmingham or Edinburgh any day of the week.

It feels like a deeply creative, positive, ambitious city. I don’t want to anthropomorphise it too much, as a city is a complex mix of psychology, geography, sociology and history. But whatever it is, it’s working. Cardiff is a city that feels like it’s going places.

But at the same time, this recession is hitting the high street hard, with PricewaterhouseCoopers announcing 20 stores are closing every day in the UK. And Cardiff has shared as much of the burden as most. A wander around the first floor level of the Capitol Centre on Queen Street is a perfect example of this, with more empty units than occupied ones. But with ThinkARK doing a brilliant empty shops project last year, the Cardiff School of Art and Design using an empty space in Morgan Arcade for their degree show, and obviously the empty shop project by the ATRiuM, it seems clear that there’s scope to be using these spaces for something positive.


You can read the rest of this article at Plastik, where it was originally published.