The Futurist

Architecture, Words 16 Mar 15

The Futurist cinema on Lime Street. Opened in September 1912, closed in 1982. Photo taken during the 2010 Biennial. The text “Think about your future” is an installation by artist Emese Benczur.

Is this currently the most talked about building in Liverpool? Could the artist Emese Benczur have known how relevant their words would become?

The Futurist is at the centre of a regeneration project on Lime Street by developers Neptune. The developers say that the Futurist will be lost in this regeneration. It’s too costly, too far gone to be saved. So the plan is student flats and retail units. Could it be more than that? Shouldn’t it be more than that? If someone at the other end of the train line thinks “Hey! Cheap tickets to Liverpool this weekend on the train. Lets go!” and travels up here to see our great city, shouldn’t they be welcomed by our great city? They’ll see the grand St Georges Hall and the beautiful new front of Lime Street station but then they would see the new Sainsburys in St Johns. Turning ever so slightly they would see a Tesco or a Costa. “Look ma! Brands.” I don’t know about you but my first impressions of a city shouldn’t be “Yay a Tesco.”

The Futurist cinema has provoked massive debate over the past few weeks in part thanks to the great SevenStreets. We are thinking about our future. People are suggesting that urban planning should be a discussion and not left to the whims of developers. They are saying that we shouldn’t sit idly by and let people change the way our city lives and breathes without our input. To that end a group called “We Make Places” talked to 7 architects about how they would approach the space. They wanted to create 7 new buildings in the space to bring the area to life in a way that student flats and generic coffee shops can’t. The idea is beautiful. It gives work to 7 local architects not just 1. 7 local companies who want think about the future. Also, cat cafe!

Is the Futurist the most important building the city right now? It’s creating discussion about the way our city works and about how we regenerate it. We might lose the cinema but its legacy could change the way the entire city grows. It’s quite a legacy to leave. A legacy inspired by architecture, public art and developed by the creative community.

SevenStreets, We Make Places, Save the Futurist are what Liverpool deserves, and what it needs right now.

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