​A shed the size of a town:​ what Britain’s giant distribution centres​ tell​ us about modern life

Designed to disappear into the landscape​, Britain’s vast super-warehouses​ also​ reflect a world in which we expect online purchases to arrive as if by magic

When you click on a product, something, somewhere, moves. The item is shifted off its shelf by human or robot and on to a chain of delivery mechanisms that takes it to your door. That item, and millions others like it, plus the machinery that handles them, needs space. The more we shop online, the more such space is needed.

You’ll know all this, I expect, but you may only be dimly aware of the physical consequences: very big boxes, getting bigger and more numerous. Higher, too, as robotic distribution systems allow goods to be piled further from the ground than before.

It is tempting to say that these buildings make the internet visible, except that their visibility is strictly limited

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