There’s lots going on around the city to mark RIBA’s Northwest Architecture Festival, running from 17-26 June across the region. The shindig is ironically timed, for it marks the opening of (and is, in part, located in) the new Mann Island development.

We’ve discussed this before. Nearing completion and we’ve yet to change our minds – we think it inarticulate, inappropriate and – especially it the graceless, leaden hulk of the office block – a quantum leap backwards for our beleaguered waterfront. Still, we’re stuck with it.

At least there’s something worth visiting it for, thanks to RIBA.

The Exploring Eye: The Photography of Eric de Maré (17 June – 4 September) runs in the public corridor that joins the pyramids to the waters of Albert Dock complex. It’s a celebration of one of Britain’s most influential architectural photographers, and showcases a poignant collection of Britain’s scarred industrial landscapes – and captures that tipping point when Britain veered from strident industrial powerhouse to post-industrial casualty.

It was De Maré’s prophetic book, The Functional Tradition in Early Industrial Buildings (1958) which potently suggested how warehouses and mill buildings could serve as an inspiration to architects rebuilding post-war Britain. So there really couldn’t be a better home for this exhibition than the Albert Dock.

Robert Elwall, exhibition curator and Photographs Curator at the RIBA British Architectural Library, explains the importance of de Maré: “De Maré ‘s images made a telling contribution to the post-war reassessment of Modernism through greatly broadening the perception of where ‘architecture’ was to be found. He gave a new respectability to architectural photography by extending its influence beyond the narrow confines of professional interest. Together these attributes make de Maré one of Britain’s most important and influential architectural photographers.”

Liverpool – Gateway to the World: Walking Tours

From this summer, RIBA is launching a programme of walking tours aimed at revealing our stories, etched out in the fabric of our city streets. The RIBA guides will lead a walking tour that spotlights key buildings – buildings you probably walk past every day, little knowing the roles they’ve played in our history – and the spaces that have shaped our past. Should prove to be a fascinating morning’s stroll.

Saturdays 10.30am
Sundays 11am

The tours will run from 18 June – 25 September 2011.
Price £7.50/£3.50 unwaged. Pre-booking is essential as places are limited. Call 0151 233 2459.

Alternatively, you can book in person by visiting either the 08 Place or the Albert Dock Tourist Information Centre. Tours begin at the Equator, Mann Island, Liverpool L3 1EN.

Stirling and the North

With his strident, stripped back and postmodern set pieces, British architect James Stirling was one of our most innovative architects – David Starkey hates him, which we think is always a good indication that he was on to something. On Saturday 25 June, the nineteenth anniversary of Stirling’s death, experts will gather at his landmark design, Tate Liverpool (Stirling’s only Liverpool building), to discuss the influence of the North on his life and work.

Born in Glasgow, Stirling spent much of his childhood in Liverpool and trained at the Liverpool School of Architecture. The rich urban fabric of Liverpool and the North exerted a powerful fascination for Stirling and had a profound influence on the rich architectural language he was to develop. The debate coincides with a major retrospective.

Saturday 25 June 2011, 14.00 – 16.00
Tate Liverpool, The Auditorium
£5/£3 concessions
Booking required at

Sandcastle Wars

Head over to West Kirby Beach on the 26th June for a mammoth sandcastle competition. Teams of six are invited to take part in the challenge. Not sure what the prize is. Possibly an architect of your choice gets to build it for real. Possibly not.

West Kirby Beach, 26 June

Visit the Architecture Festival’s website for more information

One Response to “Scratching the Surface: the Architecture Festival”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.