McArthurGlen Designer Outlet

Exit M20 at Junction 10 (just outside Ashford), & Kimberly Way
Ashford, United Kingdom

Submitted by: Harriet Festing

World-renowned architect Richard Rogers creates the largest continuous tented structure in the world - for a megamall.

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Why It Doesn't Work

The outlet is one of those buildings I feel I ought to like - it could almost be mistaken for a circus ground or sports stadium from the distance. It's a circular structure, with shops around the outside and the carpark in the middle. And yet I can't help shuddering every time I see it. What makes it so awful? It's the nothing-ness you feel when you go by. The place is passive, cultureless and commercially bland. The central 'square' is a car park, the air filled with awful piped-in music, and the people walking past have blank expressions.

What Puts McArthurGlen Designer Outlet in the Hall of Shame?

There may be cycle routes, bus links and railway access - but don't be fooled, it's designed wholely for cars.

The circular, corridor design creates a strange chill where ever you are, and the strong focus on cars (filling the center) blinds the eyes. There's no obvious place to sit, unless you want to consume fast food.

There's a cold windy food hall where you can eat fast food, and a reasonably good children's playground, but other than that, it's just shops. If they'd included an outdoor cafe, it would have been slightly more bearable.

The Designer Outlet is not a kind place.

History & Background

Ashford Borough Council (the local government) fought long and hard to get the Outlet built. They were keen to put Ashford 'on the map' and to provide retail shopping to a local population who frequently complained about the limited range of shops in the town. The Outlet offers manufacturers' end-of-season stock, surplus to high-street store requirements at typically 30/50% off recommended retail prices. Although it is located next to the international passenger station, the 1700 parking spaces for cars and elaborate motorway links say alot about how people get there.

Contact Info:

McArthurGlen - 01233-895900

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