2. Dark Store Dimensions 

The Dark Store is nestled between beige apartments with windows painted in the company’s colours with its name in bold. Just outside, bikes are parked in a chaotic configuration and in constant flux as riders leave and return with orders. Workers mill around outside chatting and smoking under the watchful eye of a surveillance camera. As I approach the door, I’m awash in artificial light and sound. Standing still in the doorway, I take a moment to adjust to the space. My eyes quickly scan the room.
The light in the Dark Store is bright and cold — the walls mostly white with the patchy grey brick underneath. Near the entrance is the e-bike battery store, a cupboard filled with wires and plugs. I receive very little instruction on what to do and how to do it. But how hard can it be? Delivering food is like riding a bike. Right? But this e-bike is different to what I’ve used before… and the app isn’t working. Everyone’s too busy to explain things to me — after all, the company runs on speed. Time is of the essence. Thankfully, a fellow rider sees my tech-struggle and offers some advice before disappearing on their e-bike. After a few orders, I’ve figured out how the system works — the apps, the bikes, and the social interactions of the Dark Store.
Its doors are heavy so our backs hold them open whilst desperately searching for viable batteries. A coat rack groans under the weight of what seems like thousands of jackets. In another corner of the main space, square backpacks for deliveries are stacked haphazardly on top of each other.

‘...it seems as though the sun sets all day at the back of the Dark Store’

Then there’s the kitchen. It’s a tight space with a sink, microwave and a much-needed coffee machine. One person can pass through at a time, squishing others against the sides when using the appliances, lockers or the toilet in the cleaning cupboard at the end of the space. The aisles, like in supermarkets, have large fridges, freezers and shelves to store the products. The shelves are packed with products wedged in next to each other and boxes are stacked high. The tightness of the aisles makes everything feel jammed. Fridges beam bright and as I reach my arm to the back of one to grab the last of an item, I avert my eyes for protection. The light at the back of the aisles is less bright, and warmer, as tape covers the glass ceiling to protect it in the rain and wind. It seems as though the sun sets all day at the back of the Dark Store.

A project by affect lab. 2022