7 April 2022 – Much feared architectural critic Owen Hatherley has published a new book entitled Modern Buildings in Britain: A Gazetteer, featuring our own Bluecoat Arts Centre from 2008.
In his own way, Owen mercilessly characterises the commercial urban renewal architecture of ‘barely defensible’ Liverpool One that wat built around it at the same time: ‘some !!!FUN!!! façade treatments which are now dating with extreme rapidity’.
However, he continues by praising our Bluecoat: ‘At its edges is an arts centre by the Dutch designers biq, connected to a very early English classical building of 1716, the Bluecoat School. It was intended partly as a polemical contrast with Liverpool One – biq were keen to stress a continuity in scale and materials with an idealized (rather than actual) idea of Liverpool as a city of red brick and black granite. The building is detailed to an extremely hight standard, and its high gable is appropriately maritime. When it was built, the Bluecoat felt like a real holdout, a piece of scrupulous, long-term architecture standing in the kitchen of a particularly insufferably party. Now, in cities that have money (i.e. not Liverpool) cheaper, paler versions of biq’s attempt to use a modernized English vernacular are everywhere. They seldom possess the grace of this excellent little building.’
Blessed by Owen Hatherley as a scouse party crasher, it somehow feels like a relief.