Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Mann Island-The Damage Has Been Well and Truly Done

Here is what we had and below what we have now got.
The Daily Post has done a debate today (2 years too late unfortunately) bringing in some big guns, well apart from Peter Brown who as the chairman of the Merseyside Civic Society. Who has let it go down the drain until it is no more than a weak drivel.
He teaches at Liverpool University.
Rob Mason of Neptune Developments trained at Liverpool University as did Matt Brooks the Architect of the "Three Grotesques". How strange that he should then support the scheme after telling me that the development was awful. Pat Moran is a council member of the Civic Society, along with Tony Moscardini the only ones I trust to tell the truth. I resigned as a council member in disgust at the vested interests within the Society, after being invited on the council. They have no presence at all. Unless it affects the individuals directly they dont seem to care. Monthly meetings of three for the Civic Society are not uncommon. What a waste of time.
Big hitters such as Gavin Stamp know what they are talking about he has made at least two programmes and written so much about Liverpool he knows the place better than some who live here.
I prepared a Channel 5 programme for Ptolemy Dean it was called "Britain's Vanishing Views". He sketched the view before it disappeared and was unequivocal in his argument.
So here is the debate...look at the before and after pictures and make up your own mind.
Jury still out on Liverpool Mann Island blocks
Jun 24 2009 by William Leece, Liverpool Daily Post

As Liverpool’s world-famous waterfront undergoes its most radical change in a century, Peter Elson and William Leece report on the debate surrounding the new development
TWO years after work started on the £120m redevelopment of the Mann Island site to the south of Liverpool’s Pier Head, the public are starting to take notice.
And although plans were scrutinised carefully and approved by bodies like English Heritage and the Commission from the Built Environment (CABE), public opinion is still split over the changes they will bring to Liverpool’s cityscape.
The three blocks, designed by Broadway Malyan, make up a mixed commercial and residential development, by Neptune Developments, in Liverpool, and the northern office of Countryside Properties, in Warrington.
The site, in the words of its publicists, “will become a vibrant waterfront destination comprising dockside cafes and restaurants, shops, sheltered public spaces, a new exhibition venue, 376 apartments and a 140,000 square feet of high-quality commercial office space.”
Gavin Stamp, trustee and former chairman of the influential 20th Century Society, is unequivocal about the three blocks.
“They should not be built. Not only is this a World Heritage Site, but there needs to be a break between the great 20th century group of the Pier Head’s Three Graces and the 19th-century group of the Albert Dock.
“It was fine as it was before with low-level buildings between the landmark groups, acting as a buffer zone so that neither of those groups are overwhelmed.
“It’s nothing to do with the World Heritage Site holding back development. This is just a very bad idea visually, as it does not respect the character of the place.
“I don’t understand why new office and apartment blocks have to be built in Liverpool, when the city has so many fine old buildings and newer properties lying empty.
“This last building boom in Liverpool has been a disaster. At best there’s a lot of mediocrity, and there’s got to be a higher quality of architecture.”
Mike McDonough, of 21st Century Liverpool, a pressure group to promote forward-thinking ideas for the city, supports the new Mann Island development, however.
“Based on what I see, it’s a really good scheme,” he says.
“There’s been so much criticism about the new buildings, but people forget that the Pier Head Buildings made bold statements in their day.
“These new granite blocks are doing the same thing. The Three Graces have a mixture of three styles and what Liverpool needs is that same bold sense of direction.
“We should stop designing buildings which are over-contextualised in terms of keeping their style quiet, but which stand out in their own right.
‘THAT was what Liverpool adopted in the 1900s when it wanted to show it was far more than just a port full of warehouses.
“The function of this building is apartments and you could argue that we have enough of those already.
“But there has been no end of planning and tweaking of the finished design to ensure that what is being built is complementary to the nearby buildings.
“In the same way, the new Museum of Liverpool complements the Three Graces with its palette to match their stonework. The new museum is admittedly quite large, but it’s needed to do a specific job.
“Interestingly, the previous Mann Island schemes, like Will Alsop’s Cloud and Richard Rogers’s scheme, were far more bold than the present one, yet more people seemed to like them.”

As Liverpool’s world-famous waterfront undergoes its most radical change in a century, Peter Elson and William Leece report on the debate surrounding the new development
Ptolemy Dean, architect and co-star of BBC 2’s Restoration programme also wrote and presented the Channel 5 series Vanishing Views, including an episode about Mann Island.
“The whole group of original buildings is brilliant. Until recently, by sheer good fortune, the clarity of Liverpool’s greatness as a port and 20th- century commercial centre was preserved,” he says.
“It’s the spaces between the buildings that matter and that’s being taken away, with the wonderful sense of the skyline, so we are losing a vital part of the story.
“You get a sense of how massive these buildings are because of the gaps between them.”
The three new granite block buildings are, he says, “like sitting in an opera and hearing a mobile phone go off. The illusion is shattered by something interrupting it.”
Peter Brown, chairman of Merseyside Civic Society, personally feels that the Mann Island scheme is a good one, although other society members disagree.
“I’ve been quite happy with the way it’s been handled and the final outcome. It would have been better if there was a masterplan, but in its absence this is the best scheme.
“My view is that it complements both the new museum and the Pier Head Three Graces.
“The new Mann Island blocks are square and black, so it’s a stark contrast with the white of the sloping new Museum of Liverpool and the classicism of the Three Graces.
“I think it’s a mistake to keep a ‘fire free’ zone between Albert Dock and the Pier Head. There is a need for financial stimulation in that area and to show entrepreneurial skills.
“The scheme offered the prospect for this and the architects worked it out well. They also managed to exceed their brief and more views of the Three Graces were retained than was proposed. I appreciate that the principal view from the south is obstructed, but none of these buildings were planned as a group, nor was it expected that these views would not be built across.
“We need a modern statement to showcase the aspirations of this city.
“It’s all consistent with what was proposed.”
PATRICK MORAN, the veteran Liverpool conservation campaigner and historian, says: “There’s a magic number and that’s three, which applies to the three Pier Head Buildings, so they should stand alone.
“What upsets me is that the spaces around the building, which are as important the buildings themselves, have been vandalised and lost. They have stolen the sky.
“The new Mann Island development has totally destroyed the iconic view of Liverpool from The Strand by interfering with the space.
“It completely obliterates the classic skyline, known throughout the world, when we were told that it would not be higher than the cornice on the Port of Liverpool Building.
“This is my Liverpool, the part I love most and when people came here they realised it was a place that mattered. It’s now being changed, but not for the better.”


  1. Ptolo is right. It's like building an IKEA in front of the Taj Mahal.

  2. Nemesis, you obviously don't know what you are talking bout. this is a one in a kind building. Liverpool has got something that other cities in the uk has not got. Mann Island is special !

  3. I agree this is an amazing looking building and will only add to Liverpool's waterfront and set it aside from other cities.