What happens when cities design for the modern age?  UNESCO get shirty, that’s what.  Merrion MD Dougal Paver investigates their latest attack on modernism.

The marvellous City Lab blog has a rather enjoyable piece here about Edinburgh’s Turd.  The picture above, from its architects Jestico + Whiles, really doesn’t leave a great deal to the imagination once you view it in the light of its unflattering local moniker.

Anyway, City Lab’s piece discusses why, in its context, the design is controversial.  This blog isn’t really about that – it’s about the style police at UNESCO.

Now, don’t get me wrong: everyone is entitled to their view on architecture and consensus is rarer than you might imagine, particularly where modern design is concerned.  And everyone is entitled to use the appropriate statutory channels to object to planning applications, but let’s cut to the chase: who elected UNESCO?

I ask the question because every time anybody puts forward anything vaguely meritorious here in Liverpool they stick their oar in.  What galls them most, I suspect, is that not too many folk give much of a hoot about the city’s World Heritage status, and I rather imagine it might be similar in Edinburgh, in spite of locals’ reservations there about the merits of said excrescence.  You really think tourists considering Edinburgh would cancel their visit because UNESCO have thought again about the city’s heritage status in the light of one modern building?  No, me neither.

If the city fathers were daft enough to plonk them all over the place and they were of poor quality then, yes, they might.  The same would hold true for Liverpool, too.  But you can’t preserve large, modern economies in aspic, for all that you need to conserve your heritage.  If new brownfield sites become available surely it’s better to have a building of its time rather than some pastiche?  Otherwise we won’t progress.


Dougal Paver

Author Dougal Paver

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