Temple Economies, Cathedrals of Consumption & Retail Heaven: a morphological (r)evolution.

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference presentation/ephemera


Retail activity is one of the most dominant land uses within a typical western urban landscape.  Whilst retail is commonly perceived as an expression of modernity, various classical scholars have noted the substantial presence of shops since antiquity (Dixon, 1995; Holleran, 2012; Purcell, 2012; Silver, 1983; Thompson, 1971). Despite the legacy, presence and significance of retail there is a paucity of scholarly analysis on retailing within the urban planning/design literature.  This paper seeks to address this research gap by adopting an historical lens to trace the major periods of innovation and transformation in the morphology of the urban retail landscape. In adopting an ‘evolutionary biological approach’ as a conceptual framework (and metaphor) the paper seeks to highlight the ‘morphological DNA’ of the major retail landscapes found in western societies such as Europe, America and Australia. This focus is deliberate in that it allows a detailed excavation of a major strand in retail morphology. The paper pursues three key questions:
1. What retail morphologies have endured through time?;
2. What revolutionary contexts provoked change in retail morphologies?; and,
3. What retail forms find expression in the typologies?
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventAmerican Association of Geographers Annual Meeting 2018: Retail & Leisure in Urban Geography and Urban Planning - Marriott Hotel, New Orleans, United States
Duration: 10 Apr 201814 Dec 2019


ConferenceAmerican Association of Geographers Annual Meeting 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew Orleans
Internet address


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