This year saw us embrace the city of Liverpool, selected due to its diverse collection of pilgrimage-worthy spaces. Liverpool is known for having the most listed buildings outside of London, creating a curious diversity of old and new interventions.
Fuelled by espresso, we began our venture within the heart of the city itself. The Everyman Theatre provoked an instant reaction as we explored it. We felt that the building possessed a timeless quality and a confident architectural execution. For some of us the finishes were so clean that events of rusticity sometimes felt enforced (such as a fossilised leaf within the concrete slab). The trip would not be complete without a visit to the Leeds Metropolitan Cathedral where persevering elements of spatial progression and sheer architectural bravery were manifest. Our flâneur then steered to additional architectural schemes such as the Liverpool Philharmonic Halland Urban Splash’s exoskeletal Vanilla Factory. FAT’s Liverpool Pavilion was a refreshingly original approach to form and colour whilst Uniform Offices by Snook Architects displayed an exciting approach to the workplace through integrated spaces and unexpected moments.
In direct response to Gary and the Pacemakers, we then progressed to cross the Mersey and head towards the Wirral where we encountered Glen Howell’s Metropolitan College. The combination of consistent detailing with intentful archetypal form created an intervention appropriate for the college’s industrious courses.
As we returned across the Mersey in our worthy vessel, a personal highlight was seeing the presence of urban appropriation within areas south of Liverpool Central. This was evident in the unfiltered use of accessible mediums, from pop-up timber construction to vibrant street art, which gives venues such as Constellations and Botanical Garden the unique character for which they are known.
After a rigorous voting system (including a paper aeroplane tie-breaker) we concluded that Hawthorn Tompkins’ Everyman Theatre was the building of the day, followed by Constellations (by H Miller Bros) as a close second. The day’s architectural appreciation extended towards awareness of the various challenges which occur between conceptual vision and construction. The variations between these different projects circumstances have had a clear impact on the final product. Great architecture has occurred, not entirely dependent on the budget or site, but concerning the intelligence utilised. It therefore, as all architecture should, imagines the best of present circumstance.