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Liverpool Echo show first glimpse inside Mann Island shards

View of the Mann Island developments and the Pier Head, Liverpool

Another Graceful View, by Max/マックス via Flickr

It’s nearly here. You don’t like it, I don’t like it, but the controversial Mann Island development is forever nearer completion. The Liverpool Echo were granted exclusive access inside.

There’s mention of exhibitions, which must be good (though whether this will be a compliment to or a conflict with the new museum remains to be seen), and then there are the “half a dozen top restaurants and … major chains”. What Liverpool waterfront certainly needs are more major chains, right?

But this blog is about history, development and change, not economics (and certainly not shopping). What it’s also about is landscape, and it’s the context of this building which troubles me and plenty of other people.

As modern architecture goes, I quite like it. Sleek, modern, shiny, it’s like a big iBrick. It’s easier on the eye than the One Park West apartments across the Strand with their spidery framework on display.

But as news reports have highlighted recently, and other bloggers too in more personal channels, it has cut off expensive views from other buildings in the area, and destroyed the best, possibly most iconic view of the World Heritage Site from the said Strand.

Plans are afoot to turn the north docklands into a new Shanghai, and the area towards Stanley Dock in the north is a bit cut off, though development is moving in that direction. If this building had been put further north, although it would have clashed just as horribly with the massive brick warehouses, it would have been the right height for the city, keeping that intimate, human-scale feel that we all enjoy about our town, and increased the modern variety that those docks are getting.

However, keeping it away from the Three Graces would maintain that area’s all-important coherence, of proud architecture which has stood the test of time.

What do you think? Is this the right building in the wrong place? Where would you prefer to see it? North Liverpool? Kirkby? Shanghai?

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