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Southwark schoolkids help design the shopping centres of the future

Young people from Elephant and Castle and Canada Water have been given the chance to have their say in how local shops and shopping centres should develop in the future.

Latin Multicultural Group
Those taking part included members of the Latin Multicultural Group: Roger, Karina, Estefania, Brian, Christian

The 13-16 year olds took part in a project called Shopped Out, funded by Southwark Council and BL Canada Quays, and managed by architectural education charity Open House.

Using a mixture of video, workshops, and interviews with their peers, traders, shoppers and developers, the participants studied retail centres in Elephant and Castle and Canada Water.

Together they looked at what makes shopping areas welcoming for young people, including how to make them feel safer without being oppressive. They also examined anti-social behaviour and how the design of retail spaces can improve relationships between residents, shopkeepers and young people.

"I liked expressing what I like and my ideas about the Elephant and Castle and other shopping centres," says Brian, a member of the Latin Multicultural Group which took part in the project.

"I learnt that everywhere I go and look, buildings are different and special. And I look at the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre differently now – I can see how people could enjoy it better."

Richard Thomas, Southwark Council's executive member for regeneration, added: "Shopped Out is an exciting project that has directly involved our young people and empowered them to contribute ideas towards their future retail environments. We are delighted with their innovative thinking, and will be making sure that their concepts are fed into our planning for the regeneration of both Elephant and Castle and Canada Water."

Shopped Out is part of a wider Open House campaign called My City Too! meaning Southwark's representatives will now be teaming up with young people from other parts of London to produce a blueprint for the future of shops and other buildings across the city to be presented to mayoral candidates in 2008.

• This year's Open House London weekend is to be held on 15 and 16 September; see participating SE1 buildings on a map.

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