Liverpool Waterfront Plans Approved

 Mann Island

Approval has been given to the project to build three modernist buildings adjacent to the UNESCO World Heritage Site at the Three Graces. A UNESCO mission, visiting Liverpool last month, already said the new buildings will not threaten the World Heritage status, although some campaigners say they will permanently alter, and for some obscure, the view of the Three Graces. UNESCO’s full report will be submitted in mid-December. Developers Neptune and Countryside Properties will start work mid-April, with plans for a face of lustrous black granite to showcase dockside eateries, retail areas, an exhibition area, over 370 apartments and office space. But campaigners, anxious to preserve the historic view, have urged caution and will continue to try to block the plans. While I have some sympathy for their views, it is vital, in my view, that Liverpool makes the brave decisions required to bring it into the 21st Century. This means sensitive development, but not at the expense of architectural boldness, as I have argued previously. Few in London complain about leading architectural design blotting the cityscape, whether it’s Norman Foster’s ‘Gherkin’ or the admirable Paternoster Square. “If there really is a new paradigm in architecture, then it will reflect changes in science, religion and politics,” writes Charles Jencks.  In these turbulent times of ours, we need to move away from the monolithic structures that have caused such harm, to a more self-organizing view that is reflected in new developments in the sciences and the arts, from non-linear dynamics to blogging. Buildings need to reach out to the people that inhabit them or view them, reorganizing urban spaces to enfranchise their inhabitants, not shut them out. It’s important that Liverpudlians open their hearts and minds and show that Liverpool really is a world city, but not a follower – a leader. Architecture, like literature and music, can be transforming, not just for society but for an individual’s experience in time and space.

(Photo c. icliverpool)

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