Thursday 2 May, 18.00 – 20.00 in the performance space

This year the Bluecoat marks five years since it reopened, following a major capital development, during Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture in 2008. This symposium – organised in collaboration with RIBA North West and biq Architecten of Rotterdam, who designed this award-winning scheme – focuses on the new Bluecoat as a place where the social and the architectural meet.

The event marks the publication of Habitat, a new book about selected biq design projects in the Netherlands and the UK, including the Bluecoat, and is intended as a ‘provocation’ from biq’s lead architect, Hans van der Heijden, who describes the Bluecoat as ‘a unique combination of village hall and avant-garde institute’.  See interview with him here:

Central to van der Heijden’s design was ‘how to re-articulate the Bluecoat’s historic properties as Liverpool’s oldest city centre building through the addition and integration of a contemporary new arts wing’. These potentially contrasting elements (the old and the new, the heritage and the modern) continue to be played out in the way the building functions. And the symposium will therefore start by exploring the fruitful collaborative approach between architect and client that helped determine how to resolve these potential tensions and to design a building that works successfully for many different uses.

The symposium will also explore the wider context of how, five years on, the new Bluecoat relates to its habitat and the culture of Liverpool, and how it contributes to sustaining urban life. It will look too at the importance of regionalism and locality in an environment of increasingly homogeneous urban planning where city centres all end up looking the same. Liverpool’s recent regeneration, especially of its central Liverpool One retail area that abuts the Bluecoat, will be examined: what role for instance might cultural organisations like the Bluecoat play in such commercial developments?

A panel of experts will address these issues:

       Hans van der Heijden, lead architect, biq Architecten

       Mark Pimlott, visual artist and designer

       Dr Paul Jones, Department of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Liverpool

       Ellis Woodman, editor of Building Design

The event will be of particular relevance to people with an interest in the Bluecoat building, in the changing face of the city and its architecture, and in local history and culture, as well as architects, design professionals, urban planners and students.  There will be an opportunity for the audience to participate in the discussion.

Bryan Biggs, artistic director at the Bluecoat said: “Five years on from 2008, this event provides a great opportunity to invite our architect back to reflect, with other specialists and our audience, on how successfully the building has worked. We are hoping for a lively discussion, not just about this building, but the wider city centre environment and what Liverpool can learn from schemes like the Bluecoat as it sets out its ambition for the urban fabric over the coming years”.

Tickets £5/£3 from Tickets & Information (0151) 702 5324

The Bluecoat, School Lane, Liverpool, L1 3BX
Fax 0151 707 0048