Tuesday, 10 June 2014

'Brutalism' for the 21st century

On a recent trip to Liverpool I came across three rather ugly new buildings on the waterfront. Known locally as the 'three black coffins' they are certainly bold statements and make quite a contrast to the white stone used in nearby buildings such as the internationally known 'three graces'. They are also bold statements to make in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. How the architect (Matt Brook)  has managed to get away with this is unbelievable. They have been rightly criticised for the obstruction of the iconic view of the 'three graces' from the Albert dock which used to make for one of the best maritime cityscapes in the country. The new museum (which is also not to my taste) has managed to used similar stone (at least in colour) to the existing buildings and blends in better (perhaps because its not such an intrusion into the cityscape). 

n my view the rectangular block on the end on the 'strand' has no architectural distinction and is certainly comparable to the worst examples of 1960's brutalism. The other two blocks although not to my taste have something more about them. The use of Black glass dominates the buildings, replacing concrete as the main material on show. This building could be described as a modern interpretation of the brutalism style. Will it be regarded as a important building and architectural significant building in 50 years time? No one would have believed in the 1960's the moves to preserve the decades examples of  brutalism then. 

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