A Saturday afternoon here, spent as a member of Homebaked Community Land Trust looking for inspiration, as we now near the end of our first, year long phase, doing the basic design of the new building that will eventually rise next to the Homebaked Community Bakery.This is a day of two architects, both at the centre of the picture here. Marianne Heaslip, of Urbed and long-time friend of all of us here, together with Toby Wallis of Architectural Emporium who have been working with us now since March last year.
Our collective brief today, in Toby’s words, we are:
“Looking for sustainable features of neighbouring buildings,
Looking at building materiality, aesthetics and durability,
And looking at old and new building junctions.”
Marianne’s particularly here for her environmental and energy advice and experience. So we spend a while discussing things like ‘green-washing’ and the corporate drivel that can often stand in for real considerations in actual contexts of what true sustainability might mean to particular groups of people in their real place.
We of course are a very particular group of people… and work carefully with Marianne and Toby defining what kinds of sustainability we’re going for on our North Liverpool high street that runs between Everton and Anfield, right outside Liverpool FC’s ground. Wanting things like low fuel bills and natural materials, along with a place that’s comfortable and uncomplicated to live and work in, along with being a building of grace and style that will last and adapt, long beyond the lives of all of us sat here designing it today and the many many other locals who have worked on it with us for so long now.
As we get closer to the end of this phase we’re getting a bit nervous about making sure that what we’ll recommend building is also a little bit magical. That’s why we’ve gathered ourselves in a new place for the group today, to go round the neighbourhood with Toby and Marianne and look around at the things Toby listed at the beginning. Look around and see what magic we might find.
And I’m not going to overload what I write with architectural opinions on here. Cally Anne Highfield has done her own report of this day over on Homebaked’s blog. So just a quick look round:
But remember we’re also looking at ways new buildings like this tie in with existing buildings next to them, as we’ll be doing that with our own Bakery.
A similar length of Hope Street frontage to what we’ll build and a stern warning to us all, particularly when compared to the beautiful Everyman at the other end of the same street. Getting a new building right is a careful art and this one’s barely even tried. Artificial brick stuck on as a facade, paving stones on their side as a column feature. I could go on.
Some wondering what’s going on up at the top there? Those of us who’ve been up there appreciating that it does actually work once you’re in the hotel.
I have it on good authority that it’s a lovely space inside.
Back onto Myrtle Street we look at the way some buildings elegantly announce their original functions.
Now, on walking round with us all there you might have notice some alarming swings from a sunny day to a dark afternoon with added hailstones. Well the explanation for that is that, suspecting the weather might get worse, I’d spent the hour before our gathering anticipating where Toby might take us and taking the sunny photos I’ve interspersed into our walk above.
I correctly guessed the places he might show us and also a few I now know he would have done except the weather got too wet and cold to keep us all out in it. So, as much for the Homebaked Design Group as anyone else, here are the missing places from our inspirational walk!
It’s popular with students all day, so its retail units are full. But we’ll be looking to build something more inspirational and somehow lasting than that.
But its developers have done one interesting thing in demolishing the student barracks that were built here in the 1970s.
Charming and attractive with its awnings and its cobbles and probably not unlike how our Oakfield and Walton Breck Roads used to be. But not a look we can go for now, so we really are going to continue to think hard about how we pull off the trick of building something new that’s also inspirational, rather than much of the new but utilitarian and probably relatively temporary that we’ve seen around here today.