The Best and Worst of Refurbished Sites in Liverpool

  • TIL Admin

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TIL Admin

Liverpool is home to some of the most spectacular pieces of architecture and listed buildings in the country. So when it comes to developments, it’s safe to say that developers can let their imaginations run wild  - sometimes transforming buildings for the better, and often for the worse! Join us as we take a look at some of the best and most controversial refurbishments.

BOSS: Central Library

Without a doubt one of the best refurbishments in the city, Central Library was transformed from being dark and dated to beautifully bright and airy. The library’s Picton Reading Room - which looks as though it’s been transported straight from Hogwarts - is particularly impressive, and was restored to its former glory to preserve its old-world style. The skylight at the top of the room’s dome was replaced with glistening glass, welcoming natural light to illuminate the space.

FAIL: Lime Street

On the site where once stood the old Futurist cinema we now have a bland, boring structure of which now houses a Lidl. The façade of this monstrosity is something only a mother would love, as you can see the lacklustre line drawings that resemble a child's colouring book. The development caused much controversy and whipped up a social media spat between Kim Cattrall and City Centre councillor Nick Small.

"Renovate AND regenerate. Architecture and its preservation preserve the history, uniqueness and beauty of any city."- Kim Cattrall
"It’ll cost £17m of public money to save the Futurist, how much of your $75m fortune will you pledge Kim Cattrall?"- Councillor Nick Small


BOSS: Everyman Theatre

Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre is a cultural and political hub, that has been loved by locals for generations. Refurbished by architecture studio Haworth Tompkins, the design carefully retains some of the site’s original details. The Everyman’s new exterior features eye-catching lettering and sunshades showcasing portraits of Liverpool residents. The auditorium was cleverly transformed into a curved format, enhancing the community feel of an iconic establishment. In 2014 The Everyman won the Stirling Prize beating off the Shard and the Olympic aquatics centre.

FAIL: Pier Head Ferry Terminal

Awarded the title of the ugliest building in Britain by Building Design Magazine, the Pier Head Ferry Terminal has been criticised for not only its lack of architectural merit, but also the placement of the design, which like Mann Island, neighbours heritage buildings that are difficult to compete with at the best of times. 

BOSS: Lime Street Station

Remember that but-ugly tower that once stood next to Lime Street? Since it's original construction during the time of urban brutalism it was probably never fully occupied. Then there was that hideous row of shops which once stood. Thankfully they all got knocked down revealing the beautiful and proud façade we see today, and nice wide open steps. 

FAIL or BOSS?: Mann Island

Love it or hate it, this is one of the most controversial developments in Liverpool was Mann Island. The site’s modern offices and apartments line the UNESCO-listed waterfront. The buildings neighbour the breathtaking Three Graces, so it’s no surprise that many felt the modern, daring designs were an eyesore, obscuring the city’s historic skyline. 

MASSIVE FAIL: Bombed Out Church Hotel (that thankfully never happened!)

When the Bombed Out Church (St Lukes) on the Hardman Street / Berry Street junction was under threat, there were numerous plans to create a purpose for this iconic landmark. The much loved structure was struck by a bomb in 1941 and has stood as a sort of reminder of the devastation the city suffered during the May Blitz. It was saved by people power in 2015, with 30,000 signing a petition to prevent the most hair brained idea by hotel group Signature Living. Lawrence Kenwright, MD of Signature, submitted plans to convert it as a multi-purpose hotel and events space, in the process completely mutilating St Lukes' identity, of which was met with uproar.

Special Shout: "The Cloud" (2003)

Again, something that thankfully never happened. The Cloud was easily the worst idea which trumps literally anything Lawrence Kenwright could dream up. Described as being "The Fourth Grace", this 10 story monstrosity was met with local resistance, described by some "as a fat arse on dumpy legs" and "the result of an 80s sci-fi movie set dropping acid". Not only that, it would have cost a staggering £325m to complete.