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Plan_b existential spaces within the city

Part 2 Project 2009
Stephen Graham
David Shannon
Andrew Shaw
University of Liverpool, UK
Plan_b is a thesis project which questions current architectural trends within the City of Liverpool. The selected site is located in the heart of the city, which has been earmarked for commercial retail development, under the title “Central Village”. Our thesis questions and counteracts the generic nature of such a proposal, providing alternative living, working and playing experiences within the urban context.
The primary building component of our scheme deals with the reinvention of an architectural typology which once existed within the city yet became dormant over time. The proposed bath house promotes ulterior spatial qualities which are juxtaposed to the existing city fabric. It also disrupts current urban rituals, providing a new, social based alternative to the city condition.
The building is both specific and generic in nature, allowing for differing appropriations to take place depending on the site or city of its habitants. It is weaved into existing fabric, parasitic in nature, exposing and reinventing what was disused, dilapidated built form.
A coherent project axiom allowed freedom in design and expression whilst addressing existing site constraints and opportunities. A part of this axiom states that ‘spatial qualities induce and stimulated emotion’. From this, a range of different spatial configurations and places were explored and martialised throughout the scheme.
By focusing upon a range of different spatial interventions we set out to achieve our project aims and objectives of destabilising current urban rituals.

Stephen Graham
David Shannon
Andrew Shaw

Andrew, David and Stephen form a team that comes from three different cultural backgrounds (Switzerland, Ireland and Liverpool), bringing together an extraordinary mix of knowledge and skills. The team proposes a provoking counter proposal – entitled ‘Plan B’– to a much-discussed retail and housing development in the centre of Liverpool, which, despite facing a climate of financial uncertainties, has recently received planning permission.

Andrew, David and Stephen propose a new inner-city bathhouse whose design is inspired by the desire to challenge the spatial perception and patterns of social activities of citizens living and working in the city centre. Influenced by the Surrealists, Situationists and Henri Lefebvre, the team propose permeable spaces and places that are not primarily seen as an economic commodity. Despite the ‘fantastic’ nature of their design, it is noteworthy that the core thesis of their project is firmly rooted in real and ongoing urban-architectural debates.

Above and beyond the commendable critical position, the work of Andrew, David and Stephen is remarkable for its outstanding presentation skills. The project is made from large-scale models and drawings, which are largely manually produced. Omitting 3D-CAD techniques for their renders and models, their work aesthetically reminds of that of Marcel Duchamp and Lebbeus Woods.

Dr Richard Koeck


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