Northern Design

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) opens its new national architecture centre, RIBA North, on the Liverpool Waterfront on 17 June. Designed by Broadway Malyan, the innovative centre invites audiences of all ages to discover more about architecture through a dynamic series of exhibitions, talks and tours, as well as a café and shop, packed with goods from Northern designers. The aim of RIBA North and its upcoming programme is to promote and share knowledge about the benefits of good design. At its heart is the City Gallery – a space for visitors to learn more about Liverpool’s past, present and future, as well as the processes involved in urban development and the evolution of the built environment.

Highlights of the City Gallery include the Digital City Model, an interactive 3D model which tells a variety of stories about Liverpool and the surrounding area; a display of RIBA’s historic collection of architecture drawings, photographs and prints, dating from the late 15th century to the present day; and a bold programme of temporary exhibitions, beginning with Liverpool(e): Mover, Shaker, Architectural Risk-Taker on 17 June which celebrates the city’s history of architectural ambition. A £67,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has enabled 30 drawings, models and watercolours from the RIBA Collections, many of which have never been on display before, to be restored to feature in this opening exhibition.

Discover un-built proposals for the city’s Anglican Cathedral by Sir Charles Nicholson and Philip Webb; a radical scheme, by Sir Denys Lasdun from 1959 for the Catholic Cathedral site and a bold vision for a new skyline by Graeme Shankland from the 1960s after two thirds of the city’s buildings were declared to be obsolete. Visitors can also view a newly commissioned film that considers how the city may evolve if it embraces its historic architectural ambition through interviews with Joseph Sharples, author of the Liverpool Pevsner City Guide; Michael Wilford, Stirling Wilford Architects; Natalia Maximova, Sheppard Robson; and Ian Richie, Ian Richie Architects.   

RIBA North will launch on 17 June with a variety of free activities and offers in the shop and café. Explore Liverpool with an interactive city tour which looks at the architecture of the Pier Head, while Build Your City invites audiences to contribute to the build of a Lego™ city.  At the heart of the centre’s shop will be a section curated by stylistKatie Patrick, displaying innovative designs from artists, makers and craftspeople from the North. This feeds into RIBA’s mission to promote creativity and enables people to own world-class, regionally produced designs for themselves.

RIBA North Opening Weekend, 17 June, Mann Island, Liverpool Waterfront, Liverpool L3 1BP.

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1. RIBA North ® McCoy Wynne, MannIsland, 2017.