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First RIBA North exhibition is ‘great opportunity’ see Liverpool’s unbuilt projects

The first exhibition at RIBA North will offer visitors a rare glimpse at original proposals for some of Liverpool’s most famous landmarks.

Co-curator of ‘Liverpool(e): Mover, Shaker, Architectural Risk-Taker’ has called the showcase a “great opportunity” for audiences to see some of the treasures from the RIBA Drawings Collection.

The exhibition celebrates Liverpool’s architectural history and features over 30 original drawings, models and watercolours for designs of Liverpool which were never realised.

Dating from the 1700’s to the mid 20th Century, highlights of the exhibition range from a Seaman’s Memorial on the Waterfront to drawings by Sir Denys Lasdun, Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Giles Gilbert Scott for the city’s two famous cathedrals.

Joseph Sharples, co-curator of the exhibition and author of the Pevsner Architectural Guide to Liverpool, says: “The RIBA Drawings Collection is an astonishing resource, but its riches are not widely known among non-specialists.

“This is a great opportunity for audiences in Liverpool to see some of its treasures.

“Many of the Liverpool-related drawings in the RIBA were made as entries for design competitions, and this suggested the theme of the exhibition. With its dynamism and its exceptional setting, Liverpool has always challenged architects to design bold – and sometimes controversial – schemes.

“To see these unbuilt projects gathered together is a reminder that today’s city is the result of countless choices between alternative visions. The creativity Liverpool has inspired in the past can be a benchmark for the future.”

Competition design for Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral by Denys Lasdun, 1959

Amongst the ambitious proposals is a design for the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral by Sir Charles Archibald Nicholson from 1901/1902.

It would have been roofed with a dome, and the transepts would have had huge windows, flooding the space with light. Sir Giles Gilbert Scott won the contest but Nicholson was able to reuse his idea for the chapel of Clifton College in Bristol.

Another vast-scaled idea on display is by Graeme Shankland who reinvented Liverpool’s skyline. On a two metre wide panorama (pictured) visitors can get a glimpse at what the planning consultant imagined for an urban renewal after two thirds of the city’s buildings were declared to be obsolete during the 1960s.

RIBA North opens to the public on 17 June.