Not Brockley Central: One New Change

Since we're working on a photo shoot at One New Change with Brockley-based photographic agency Lucid Representation next week, we thought we'd better go and recce it today - our first chance to see it since it opened last autumn.

We weren't entirely sold on the brown stealth bomber based on what we'd seen of it in the media and we'd have been happy for the building it replaced to be retained and remodeled. But, as with the new Spitalfields, the City has proved its critics wrong and built a development that satisfies market demand for familiar brands while creating something unique.

Regularly described as a shopping mall, it's really nothing of the sort, One New Change is a food quarter, where a new Gordon Ramsay will soon nuzzle up next to Jamie Oliver's Barbecoa and where the ubiquitous Eat is joined by the rare treat that is Bea's of Bloomsbury. Nor, despite being called a bulky behemoth does it feel like a giant.

Unlike Westfield, which hermetically seals in its shoppers like punters at a Vegas casino, the building is permeable, encouraging you to dip in and out of it, giving you glimpses of the sky, the streets and the world beyond at all times. It's big by central London standards, but it's no Bluewater. The closest comparison we can think of is The Mailbox in Birmingham.

Best of all, the building positively encourages you to escape the commercialism on its lower floors, whisking you up to its sixth floor in high-speed glass elevators, to its stunning roof terrace. London makes shockingly poor use of its rooftops, but here, it has been turned in to a handsome, humane, public space - a stepped concrete and glass landscape that acts as an altar for the churches surrounding it - not only the enormous dome of St Paul's but also the spire of Wren's St Vedast. God and mammon.