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City's architecture celebrated in new festival

Talks, walks and a major exhibition on the homes we live in

Published on June 12th 2012.

City's architecture celebrated in new festival

BUILDINGS, according to Frank Lloyd Wright, “are children of Earth and Sun”. 

Looking around Liverpool, you would be forgiven for thinking that some developments were the bastard offspring of Uranus. 

But for every bit of bad architecture there are ten more eye-pleasing “wastes of space”. After all, this is the city with more Grade I and Grade II listed buildings than anywhere else in the UK outside London. 

Over the next week or so these are celebrated as part of the Royal Institute of British Architects’ new festival, Love Architecture, which runs nationwide from 15 – 24 June 2012. 


Here in Liverpool, the festival will be launched, interestingly, at The Equator - one of the controversial Mann Island buildings which, depending, on your point of view, has little to relate it to either the Earth or the Sun. 

The Equator is also the venue for A Place to Call Home: Where We Live and Why, a major exhibition on transfer from London, curated by TV presenter and developer Sarah Beeney. 

It looks back over the last 250 years of the everyday British home  – from the first Georgian terraces through to today’s housing developments and flats.

A Place To Call Home 2Through over 120 images and drawings from the RIBA collections, along with models and advertising posters, the exhibition explores why they look the way they do, who they were built for, how they were sold to us and the impact of our home on our day to day life and sense of identity.

 The UK has one of the oldest housing stocks of any country in the world.  Via a time-line the visitor will be led through the many events and developments that brought about changes to our housing including the industrial revolution, the garden city movement, changes in travel, slum clearances, changing patterns of ownership, the aesthetics of modernism and its impact on high-rise housing, the role of nostalgia, urban mixed-use buildings the role of market forces in the production of contemporary housing developments. 

A Place To Call HomeThe story is illustrated with images by some of Britain’s most significant photographers social and architectural photographers such as Eric de Mare, John Maltby and Tony Ray-Jones.  

The exhibition reveals how mass housing was often based upon high quality social or design ideals that were sometimes woefully lost in the final outcome. It tells us how our houses were sold and marketed to us and explains why we have gone from being a nation in 1908 when only 10% of houses were owner occupied to one in 2008 where 66% of houses were. It also tells of how enduring the ‘traditionally’ designed house is to the British public and poses the question - are we really a nation of traditionalists or are there other factors? 

Beeney says: “We spend more time at home than anywhere else. So inevitably our home has a major impact on how we live and feel about our lives.  This exhibition tracks the evolution of Britain’s housing to explore how over the last two centuries our homes have given us ways to express who we are.” 

The exhibition coincides with a major new inquiry from the Future Homes Commission. The RIBA has tasked the Commission, chaired by Sir John Banham comes at a time when the RIBA is working with the Future Homes Commission to examine the future of British housing and asking why the UK has some of the smallest homes in Europe and whether the homes we are building today meet our needs.  

*A Place to Call Home: Where We Live and Why, 15 June – 9 September 2012 The Equator, Mann Island, Liverpool L3. Free entry. 

Other Love Architecture events

We Love Sandcastles  (Family)

Saturday 16 June, 11.00am – 4.00pm, West Kirby Beach, FREE

Bring along your bucket and spade and take part in the Liv:Creative sandcastle competition. There will be several categories to enter and all ages and skill-levels are welcome!

RIBA & John Lewis Liverpool : Inside and Out


Meeting point: the Bluecoat Courtyard, School Lane, Liverpool

16 June, 11.00am – 5.00pm, FREE, advance booking recommended

Visit John Lewis in Liverpool for the chance to have a free 30-minute consultation with a RIBA architect who can help you make you house a dream home! Staff from the John Lewis Home Design and Fitted Kitchen teams will also be on hand to offer their advice.

Liverpool ONE Discovery Tour

Monday 18 June, 6.00 – 8.00pm, FREE but advance booking required

Find out more about the development that changed the way we interact with our city and the buildings that were built for it, as well as those that remain from before.

Tour of Martins Bank Building

Thursday 21 & Friday 22 June, 1.00 – 2.30pm and 3.00 – 4.30pm, FREE but advance booking required

A chance to see inside the remarkable Martins Bank Building and view the bank vaults, the banking hall and the board room.

Beat the Architect! (Family)

23 June, 10.00am – 1.00pm, LEGO store, Liverpool ONE, FREE

Your chance to take on a team of architects at a LEGO building challenge and showcase your design skills. The architects will also take requests!

Picturehouses Present: Architectural Features

23 June, 3.00 – 5.30pm, FACT Liverpool £8.50/£7.50

Picturehouses at FACT will be screening Terence Davies’ love song and eulogy to Liverpool, Of Time and the City, as part of the festival. There will be a short talk about the architecture of Liverpool beforehand and a chance to take a tour of FACT afterwards.

Of Time And The City %282009%29-2Of Time And The City 

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23 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

BadJune 12th 2012.

You just want to move it out of the way, don't you?

AnonymousJune 12th 2012.

It's like some sort of Photoshop mistake

AnonymousJune 13th 2012.

I call it the Tourrets building, as I start swearing profusly when I walk through Albert Dock, and see the 3 graces obscured..it's just, it's just well, a whole lot of nothingless really.

AnonymousJune 13th 2012.

I call it the shit building

Nikolaus PevsnerJune 15th 2012.

Like an immense black stool dropped by a passing Colossus who'd been drinking Guinness.

AnonymousJune 15th 2012.

Given those pointy angles, it must have hurt

AnonymousJune 15th 2012.

Once again, the Luddites prevail and the backward looking recidivists spout off. Let's put it all back to bomb damaged, silt filled magnificence

Norman ISanislandJune 15th 2012.

I love bold architecture mate, but that is one crap building

Nikolaus PevsnerJune 16th 2012.

Ahem, Anonymous, NEGLECTED magnificence.

Negligence can be undone without wholesale destruction and replacement with the far inferior.

AnonymousJune 16th 2012.

Just booked two tickets for the L1 tour. I shall piss and moan about everything since the Edwardian era in vociferous tones and demand that the clock is turned back forthwith
Yours etc
R Kidd

Roger WhittakerJune 17th 2012.

I suppose you like that crap architecture that Peel are planning on the north docks too, anonymous

AnonymousJune 18th 2012.

Not necessarily Rog, I just find the instinctive dislike and the desire to avoid anything new a bit.....strange, and narrow minded. You could always go back to Durham Town you know :-)

Nikolaus PevsnerJune 19th 2012.

It isn't narrow-minded to detest a huge, unsympathetic, obscuring and profitable development in the midst of a waterfront ensemble of buildings that have become our city's trademark and a World Heritage Site to boot.

They could have built it further away. The Pier head was not "bomb damaged, silt filled" as you put it; it was already a famous landmark of notable buildings and a tourist attraction that was a symbol of the city.

The developers could have thrown this up somewhere that was "bomb damaged" and "silt filled". But they didn't.

AnonymousJune 19th 2012.

The Pier Head? That one-time bus stop and location for a Berni Inn? Get real man, it was an embarrassment and a hang out for dossers, and looked like it too. Compare that to now - an open, fresh - yes occasionally challenging - layout that is IMHO a joy to behold, and something for the city and it's inhabitants to be proud of.

And shame on something for being....dare we say it.....profitable! How dare they ensure their viability and sustainability by turning a profit! Far better to scrape along and hold out the begging bowl, then slowly die?

Nothing stands still, and cities of all places have to change and adapt. Despite the pretentions in your nom-de-plume, you don't seem to have a grasp of that

1 Response: Reply To This...
Nikolaus PevsnerJune 19th 2012.

Profitable for the developers in the short term, not the city, its inhabitanrts or visitors.

Previously the site housed a local, long-established and profitable Mercedes-Benz dealership in an elegant 1930s garage premises that was originally built for Horsman Motors, another local company. I suppose these cars were bought by your 'dossers'?

All we have there now is an ugly block of cramped, speculative flats with their cookers in the living rooms - how retro-slum is that?

AnonymousJune 19th 2012.

Why are you anonymous again?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 19th 2012.

Cos I can't be arsed to sign up with some daft name that makes me sound witty and droll......Roger

Roger WhittakerJune 19th 2012.

Are those black buildings still 90 per cent empty? So much for being profitable. They are ugly and they block a stunning view which is lost forever now, or at least until they fall down. They are an abomination and you do not know what you are talking about.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 19th 2012.

Ol' Nik brought up the profitable item? Not saying I love the black place, but I accept that as a hiccup in an otherwise superb overall IMPROVEMENT! How often do you get 100% of what you want, like or wish for? Compromise

AnonymousJune 19th 2012.

PS/ Not know what I'm talking about, or just have a different view from the one you have? All opinion old boy

Nikolaus PevsnerJune 19th 2012.

Strangely, the same opinion as UNESCO which presumably uses people who do know what they are talking about for guidance.

Nikolaus PevsnerJune 20th 2012.

Curiously most people have the same opinion as UNESCO which presumably takes its guidance from people who do know what they are talking about.

Nikolaus PevsnerJune 20th 2012.

Hey... What the...

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