The Royal Institute of British Architects is gearing up to open RIBA North, its new national architecture centre, on Saturday at Liverpool’s Mann Island.
RIBA North, designed by Broadway Malyan, is intended as a place for everyone to discover more about architecture with exhibitions, talks and tours as well as a café and shop.
To celebrate the opening, an immersive display called Un-veiled by KHBT Architects will welcome visitors in the winter garden between the Mann Island buildings. The public can walk through multiple layers of red mesh cut in the shape of iconic northern buildings including Imperial War Museum North and Liverpool Catholic Cathedral. Guests can also join free architectural city tours.
The centre also includes the City Gallery, a space for visitors to learn more about Liverpool’s architectural story, as well as the processes involved in urban development.
Alongside this permanent display, RIBA North is hosting a programme of temporary exhibitions and offering the opportunity to view the RIBA Collections, the nation’s richest resource of architecture drawings, photographs and prints, dating from the late 15th century onwards.
The opening exhibition, Liverpool(e): Mover, Shaker, Architectural Risk-Taker, praises Liverpool’s history of architectural ambition.
A £67,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) enabled 30 drawings, models and watercolours from the RIBA Collections, many never previously displayed, to be restored to feature in the opening exhibition.
They include unbuilt 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 are able to watch a newly commissioned film including interviews with Joseph Sharples, author of the Liverpool Pevsner, Michael Wilford of Stirling Wilford Architects, Natalia Maximova of Sheppard Robson and Ian Richie of Ian Richie Architects.
Jane Duncan, RIBA President, said: “We are particularly proud to strengthen our cultural and creative offering in the north of England, and to enable many more people to explore and understand the enormous impact that architecture and design has on all our lives.
“At RIBA North, we have a building with museum conditions which will offer a magnificent opportunity to view RIBA’s world-renowned historic collections showing hundreds of years of the UK’s extraordinary architectural history.”