If you didn’t already know, I’m a proud Bradfordian. I left when I was 6 but my childhood memories of the city are strong and prevalent in my life. The Kirkgate Centre figures in many of them and, since leaving, I’ve had the privilege to return quite a few times. Then a few weeks ago, I read this article by Matt Tempest discussing the upcoming demolition of the brutalist shopping centre:
The Kirkgate Centre—originally named the Arndale Centre (and the name by which most Bradfordians still think of it) —is a brutalist concrete shopping mall designed by Donald Clark of the 1860s-founded Bradford architectural firm the John Brunton Partnership, on a sloping site in the heart of the city.
The council’s plans, not previously hinted at, are to raze it to the ground and replace it with a city centre park, plus housing and commercial units—a ‘green lung’, to use the archispeak jargon.
I’m very sad. I know brutalism is polarising and it’s a problematic social and architectural ideal but it’s also unique and arresting. It’ll be a great shame to see it go but I suppose, as a non-resident, my rose-tinted view differs from people who still live in the city. And the council. Let’s hope the new “green lung” actually aids the culture of the city rather than turning it into Just Another Characterless City In The UK. It’s interesting that Bradford City Council has gone down this route; I currently live in Nottingham and their city council have also opted for this green approach for its Broadmarsh Area Transformation, which is still in progress. (Spoiler alert: I’m not really a fan.)
Next time I go back, I’m taking more photos.