I got myself into a ridiculous conversation about town centre architecture the other day. It was a debate I was destined to lose right from the start.
It all started when I chipped in to one of those “nothing’s like it used to be and everything today is rubbish” type discussions. I should know better.
This particular exchange was in relation to the new buildings at the top of Talbot Road, Bickerstaffe House etc.
Built three years ago to a contemporary design, you may remember me saying at the time how marvellous it was that we had started building “city scale” buildings you could literally look up to.
Blackpool has a range of different architectural styles all thrown in together, and between them, they mark out their era well. Up until recently, many of our former schools were to a 1950s design, some of the older ones like Highfield and Hawes Side, to an earlier distinctive late 1920s blueprint.
“Bickerstaffe House is no more than a soulless box”, rang out one damning assertion. Well it’s an opinion, and it started a whole discussion about what is and isn’t good architecture.
What did make me smile was the suggestion that the former Lewis’s building was, by comparison, an iconic building. Yet it looked like a box. The thing Lewis’s had in its favour was that it was built 55 years ago and no longer with us and so had achieved mythical status under the general heading of “life ain’t what it used to be”, or probably more accurately “the town has changed since I was young”.
Every generation has its style, and Blackpool can take so many different styles....look at the Wedding Chapel which caused a suitable stir in its day. That’s what its about.
We don’t live in a museum and calls for buildings to look more like they did in the past in an effort to make us feel more comfortable about getting older isn’t the best way forward. If you ask me what building I’d like to see flattened at the earliest opportunity, it would probably be the 1978 monstrosity that is the Wilkinson’s building. Yet it was revolutionary in its day...I may get my wish next year.
Progress means embracing new building designs whether it makes us feel old or not.