We love Liverpool ONE – we salute the vibrancy it’s brought to the city centre, and the cash, of course. But we’re saddened to see that one of its few kooky corners, that of Keys Court, is scheduled to be demolished, to make way for something altogether more, well, nondescript. At least, that’s the plan (application number 12F/1422).
This tiled, jagged ziggurat is perhaps the only independently minded enclave of the massive scheme – and, as such, is the natural home for such pop-up wonders as the Made Here store we praised fulsomely recently. Proprieter Kate couldn’t, at the time, praise LiverpoolONE enough either, singling out their ‘can do’ attitude to ‘easy in and out’ tenants, willing to brighten up this processional route into the bling corridor of Peters Lane. Here, amid the Kuonis and the Boss emporia, you’ll see the sleek black granite and engineering brick of Haworth Tompkins and Dixon Jones’ RIBA-winning treatment.
And very stylish and lovely it is too.
But it works because of the juxtaposition of its cheeky and brash next door neighbour. It’s like the Desperate Scousewives cast have moved in next door to the Made in Chelsea gang. And Liverpool loves nothing better than a clash of cultural stereotypes.
When LiverpoolONE opened – or, rather, just before – it made great store of promising a vibrant mini-mall of local traders, offering a pleasing counterpoint to the big name retail we, equally, craved. As it should – because all city centres need both. SevenStreets has just returned from Portugal – where cities from Porto to Lisbon offer that rich, essential mix of the big name chain next to the esoteric local. Ah well, you know the score, we don’t need to labour the point.
Seems Grosvenor is disappointed by the relatively thin pickings along this stretch. And, to be fair, they have a point. We’ve never been in Tie Rack. But don’t shoot the shop fronts. These are the best bits – designed by the hot-right-now FAT architects: an internationally acclaimed practice who’ve made their mark in an otherwise sleek and serviceable (but ever so slightly monochrome, apart from the staircase) shopping centre.
FAT’s response was to use references that include ornamental and decorative street furniture as well as, in their words, “the tiled and patterned facades of the Victorian buildings of Liverpool”. And they did it with style, humour and eye-popping chutzpah. If a building ever said new Liverpool, it was their Liverpool Pavilion. So we’ll be gutted to see it go.
Its spaces, too, were deliberate: the series of facets along it alter the buildings’ interior shapes and provide niches for seating and views into Church Yard from the first floor cafe and ground floor retail units. And it’s the perfect place for small to medium local stores to dip their foot into the retail world. The plan is to turn this huddle of mini stores into a ‘single storey pavilion building comprising two retail units’ – in other words, say goodbye to pop ups and tiny, bazaar-like stalls.
Come on Grosvenor. Your tenancy residency is beating all expectations. Heck, Harvey Nicks is about to open. Have a heart – give this space to us. Let us animate it, feed it and nurture it to life. Give the place over to the city: allow us to shape it, own it, breathe some passion and independence into it. Like they do in similar schemes in Malmo, Lyon and Berlin: and allow the city to show you what it can do. Tie Rack? Sorry, but that’s never gonna set pulses racing, is it?
If you straighten out our kinks and jagged edges, you’ll have separated the Liverpool from the One.
(You can place objections on the city’s planning portal here.