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Martin –

A fascinating initial post. I’m always impressed that you keep on trying to raise the level of discussion. And I particularly appreciate that you try to give reasons for your preferences, not just issue them forth as if anyone else is interested whether you ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ something.

Two things you say are worth emphasizing: that sixties (and 70s) architecture had some reasoning behind it and wasn’t just cheap and thoughtless, and indeed that it frequently sought to invoke or defer to context. But where it didn’t, its ambitions are interesting even when they were flawed. I’m thinking of the walkway system and the architectural responses it produced. The ‘New Hall Place’ area in Old Hall Street, now obliterated, was one area where (when there were enough people around, which was seldom) you could get a sense of the multi-level city planners were aiming at. From this point of view the location of the former ‘Metropolitan House’ on a large podium makes sense.

The other is your environmental message. This should really be appreciated by those who talk about knocking down buildings and replacing them by something taller and shinier as if they were pieces on a chessboard. Mind you, that’s just chatter: the real problem is developers who do this for real. That offices such as Broadgate in London, built with all the extra space for cabling that was demanded in the 1980s but is now (as you say) becoming redundant, are now themselves threatened with demolition is pretty appalling.

I think you are spot on regarding Silkhouse Court, which I agree is one of the best buildings of the era. It’s almost a classical building, such is its emphasis on symmetry: two pavilions flanking a tall element, and the vertical indentations work like reverse pilasters. Did you ever notice that some experiments on painting it had been done round the back? Thankfully these never came to anything.

Fifties architecture is worth a look too. It tended to be less ambitious and more deferential, with much use of Portland stone, essentially continuing the art deco themes of Herbert Rowse and Charles Reilly, and thus extending a distinctive Liverpool architectural tradition: good examples are the Corn Exchange and Merchant’s House, Lord Street (I think it’s called). Possibly the Tinlings Building (a quite elegant building, though it suffers from an inactive ground floor) is of this era also, which indeed might well creep into the early 60s, as the 60s does the 70s.
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