Month of events aims to get us talking about buildings and public spaces

This week sees the launch of the Liverpool Architecture Festival 2022 (LAF), a month long city-wide event which aims to bring together the architectural community to highlight outstanding work, share ideas and ultimately raise design and building quality standards. 

The buildings where we live, work, and socialise can have a massive impact on our livelihoods.

LAF was launched in 2021, organised by Liverpool Architecture Foundation and supported by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). This year, LCR Mayor Steve Rotheram and his appointed "Design Champion", Paul Monaghan, have gone out to support a bigger festival, showcasing our architectural heritage and working to improve the buildings and public spaces of the future.

Company Mann Island Restaurant Bar Liverpool Waterfront Pic Vma
Mann Island - a bit 'Marmite' Image: Confidentials

Steve Rotheram said: “I want to make sure that we continue to innovate and advance our building design to create spaces that will not only enhance our skyline – but that improve the communities they are in. 

"The buildings where we live, work, and socialise can have a massive impact on our livelihoods, and that’s why it’s so important that we strive to be the very best.

“Last year’s festival was a massive success and gave us the opportunity to celebrate our world-renowned architectural heritage.”

Novotel The Spire Liverpool Architecture
The new Novotel being built in Paddington Village Image: Confidentials

From Port Sunlight on the Wirral to Lord Street in Southport, our region is fortunate to be home to some of the country’s - and the world’s - greatest architectural triumphs. 

But it's not all good. Some of Liverpool’s key buildings have previously been nominated for - and won - the Carbuncle Cup, an architecture prize given annually by the magazine Building Design to "the ugliest building in the United Kingdom completed in the last 12 months''.

Local nominees for the "award" have included One Park West (2009), Museum of Liverpool (2011), and Signature Living for Shankly Hotel (2018.) In 2009, Hamilton Architects won the Carbuncle Cup for Liverpool Ferry Terminal. The Guardian said it was “a lumpen stick of rock plonked down in front of the Three Graces, disastrously despoiling the Unesco world heritage site.” 

The Carbuncle Cup was intended to be a humorous response to the prestigious Stirling Prize given by RIBA. The award hasn’t happened since 2018 but there’s an argument to be made for bringing it back when you see some of the blots on the landscape. 

Last year, Liverpool was stripped of its UNESCO World Heritage Status.

Pier Head Ferry Terminal 2017 Carbuncle Cup
The Mersey Ferry terminal won the Carbuncle Cup for Britain's ugliest building in 2013 Image: Confidentials

Steve Rotherham says that he wants this year’s Liverpool Architecture Festival to stimulate the debate around what good design is and how we can best use our public spaces. 

“That’s why I appointed Paul Monaghan, a local lad who has become one of the country’s leading architects, as our first design champion,” said the LCR Mayor. “I know that like me, Paul has big ambitions for the future of the Liverpool City Region – and I can’t wait to see that creativity and passion on full display!”

Paul Monaghan said, “Mayor Steve Rotheram appointed me as the Liverpool City Region Design Champion because he recognised that the bar for design needed to be raised for new developments. 

“This festival galvanises the extensive architectural community and is an important driver for change.

“I was brought up in Liverpool and have been lucky enough to design several buildings there including the Alder Centre for the children’s hospital and the refurbishment of the Royal Court Theatre. My experiences are that the city welcomes good design.

"Liverpool also has a thriving emerging architectural scene which I have been keen to promote."

The Eight Ropewalks Liverpool
'The Eight', luxury apartments in Ropewalks Image: Confidentials

LAF features a four-week programme running from Monday 6 June to Friday 1 July with a series of lectures, workshops, walking and building tours, open studios, and a symposium on the potential listed buildings of the future.

Walking tours will highlight the work of celebrated architects, such as Herbert Rowse, famous for designing prominent buildings including Hope Street’s Philharmonic Hall as well as the India Buildings and Martins Bank, on Water Street.

Modernist architecture, ranging from the University of Liverpool campus to the historic business district, will be celebrated with tours hosted by Dominic Wilkinson, of the Modernist Society.

Herbert Rowse Walking Tour Liverpool Architecture Festival
The festival includes a Herbert Rowse walking tour Image: PR

Building tours by the Liverpool Architecture Society will see architects present their work to other architects, exchanging ideas and sparking debate. Among the guided tours are explorations of Liverpool’s Bluecoat, Birkenhead Priory, and the award-winning The Bunker, which was designed to breathe fresh life into a Littlewoods storage building.

A Future Listings event will see six presenters, including conservation officers and private practitioners, make the case for adding a currently unlisted building to the protected register. The festival will also include architecture studios opening their doors, allowing for a behind the curtain look into how practices undertake their work.

For more information on Liverpool Architecture Festival and the full line-up of events, visit

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