New book on Liverpool’s buildings, and how cities make us
A new book is released this month by Stephen Bayley, and
Liverpool: Shaping the City is a large and colourful exploration of the city’s built history. It includes development, old and new and brings in photographs from the early 20th Century when some of Merseyside’s most iconic buildings were being constructed.
We learn in the Foreword by RIBA’s president Ruth Reed that Liverpool can lay claim to three world firsts in architecture: the first building to use skyscraper technology (Oriel Chambers in Water Street), the first wet dock (no prizes for guessing) and the first hydraulic cargo-handling system.
Perhaps I’ll come back to a full review of this book once I’ve read it (it only arrived this morning!), but suffice to say it looks to include good coverage of how Liverpool has developed as a city, and how it does and will continue to change as the years progress.
Meanwhile, you can read a column in the Times by Stephen Bayley, How Liverpool returned from the dead which introduces some ideas from the book. His main point is that you can ‘design your way out of a depression’ by building cities which bring joy to people. From a personal point of view, I whole-heartedly agree (though my cynicism would reword it as ‘design yourself towards the end of a depression), which is why I – and others – get so animated when an ugly construction is plonked down in a beloved vista.
My favourite quote from the article, and one which almost single-handedly justifies this blog and my interests in Liverpool’s buildings, is “We make our environments and then our environments make us”. He suggests putting it on a T-shirt, and I just might.