So the moment has arrived. Mann Island is – at least in Building Design’s eyes – a 24 carat blot on the landscape. It’s up against some stiff competition though, by the look of the other shortlisted horrors.
So we’re revisiting this feature…Hope you enjoy our slideshow at the end.
Imagine this. You were the custodian of a city viewpoint that adorned a thousand calendars, had snappers from Toronto to Tokyo ooh-ing and ah-ing behind their Fuji Finepix, and sharing their holiday photos with friends across the globe. That, through a thousand Flikr updates, our city went viral.
Imagine that UNESCO had given said cluster of civic pride a coveted World Heritage status – ranking it alongside the Alhambra in Spain, The Statue of Liberty, the Medina of Marrakesh…
Not only that, but to obscure this with a graceless, leaden hulk that wouldn’t get past first base on a RIBA Correspondence Course.
There is, among architects, a raging debate about context. Zaha Hadid says it’s bollocks – that buildings don’t have a duty to ‘blend in’ but to ‘respond’ to their immediate urban condition. We tend to agree. But even she wouldn’t be arrogant enough to block out the competition. But, then, she is a world class architect. Not a school boy who got lucky with a design competition.
Liverpool is a complex city. This is not a complex debate. Mann Island is not a complex building. It’s a jagged little pill. And we’re all going to have to swallow it. At least, until it the next one comes along.
Still, Steven Gerrard loves it. He’s snapped up two luxury apartments. Good to know that, for some, that view will remain – if only from their bedroom window.
Ironic, isn’t it, that even through the fires of Blitz, the ‘Geermans’ didn’t obliterate the Three Graces. It was our friendly fire what did for ’em.
EDIT: Today, Mann Island has been shortlisted for the 2012 Carbuncle Cup (it missed out last year because it wasn’t finished). The cup must know its way around the Pier Head only too well…the Pier Head terminal won in 2009 and the Museum of Liverpool was (unfairly, we think) nominated last year.
Judges described the Mann Island development, by Neptune, as ‘a scheme that completes the desecration of that city’s once great waterfront.’ We agree. Even though the new Open Eye gallery is lovely.
So, in response to the outrage, Sevenstreets postulates what damage this implanted cell would create, should other city councils be quite so myopic. Reminds us of that scene at the end of 2010, a Space Odyssey… and, we’re sure Merseytravel don’t want to be reminded of quite how ill-fated a move to Mann really is.