Friday, 9 April 2010

SAINSBURY'S SUPERMARKET IN CROSBY, LIVERPOOL BY HADFIELD CAWKWELL DAVIDSON

A plaintive cry reaches Nairn's inbox. "Help us BBA, you're our only hope... well nearly. This 'ethical business' has just put in this absolute crock of white box and car parking hell for planning." I'm assuming the ethical business is Sainsbury's, but the architect Hadfield Cawkwell Davidson also has a thrilling 'culture' statement on their website that I urge you do go and read. The hyperventilating rhythm of 159 words of flatulent good intentions goes beyond the normal corporate bollocks and enters the realm of protesting too much. "We believe that good design can make a positive difference to economic and social value [sic]," they pant. "We are good people, please believe us. We just want to make some money before we retire..." - that's me interpreting. The culture statement should come with that spread better's caveat: "while good design can make a positive difference, we also do some bad design, which can make a negative difference..."
Happy to oblige you, dear reader from Crosby. The funniest thing about this piece of crap is that the image comes in the middle of a long and comprehensive Design and Access Statement that shows how sensitively the architects have considered the urban context and so on. They did loads of research, photographed the area meticulously, etc etc. Then they dumped this cereal packet on the site. They did design some elevations, though. Let's take a look (you might need to click):

I sometimes think that on projects like this, the architects don't really draw elevations, which is why they turn out so awful. In this case, they drew the elevation, had a meeting about it, thought "that looks great!", buffed it up in photoshop and sent it out. Stop guys! Listen to that voice inside that you've been trying to kill for decades. You're designing shit, and all the ethical company statements in the world won't save you from the devil at the final architectural reckoning.
Oh yes, they've also designed a few other buildings around the store, including another cereal packet-like transport interchange with a cladding of grey sticks. But this is one caught my eye.
This is a 'community use' building for da community. Presumably this is the section 106 payoff for letting Sainsburys dump on Crosby in such offensive style. The architects explain the elegant form by saying: "The massing and scale of the design responds to the building's purpose and surrounding context as well as providing extensive landscaping and planting around the proposal."
Let me translate.
"We are hoping that this piece of undesigned crap that we have imported from a business park we did in 1997 will serve as some kind of public building, and we have specified some trees that will eventually cover it up so you won't have to look at it. Don't push us on this - our client will just walk away. There's a recession on, haven't you heard? This building is for the people. They can do whatever they like in it. Just don't ask us what - we don't hang out in community centres..."

10 comments:

  1. That 'cultural statement'... one for Archibollocks perhaps?

    http://archibollocks.blogspot.com/

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  2. Ooh, but they use a capital "C" for clients so I'd appoint them. Especially now I know that their buildings can be used safely.

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  3. Ah...yes indeed, those Capital Letters. It makes it So Important.

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  4. Though I live in Spain I am from Crosby originally. Everyone is up in arms at Sainsburys, who want to take over the whole town centre. Half a dozen perfectly good late-Victorian houses are derelict because they are blighted. Of course this megalomania is supported by local businessmen - including, prominently, an estate agent who tried (and failed) to cheat me out of £13,000 when I sold a house there a couple of years ago.

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  5. Is it just me, or is the prevailing aesthetic in British supermarket design to make buildings that do not look like supermarkets? I am struck by the height of the elevations of the supermarket projects you have posted. What do they do with all that space? Why do they want buildings that look like chemical weapons factories?

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  6. This is a shocking awful proposal which will set Crosby back for years. It is has only been recently submitted for planning. Right now it is on the front page of the Sefton Council Website - and you can submit comments online. PLEASE DO
    A great review by Ghost of Nairn.. keep up the good work. I too am turning in my grave.

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  7. Call us naïve, but we are going to try and get this monstrosity stopped.
    Please sign our petition - http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/ABetterCrosby

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  8. I usually dont involve myself in what I dont know about. Is this the Maghull Developments site in Crosby?

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  9. This would win an award for good design in Romania

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  10. I'm only in the middle of my part one, but this site makes me angry (because so much crap gets built in this country these days and surely even I would be embarrassed to propose this sort of shit in a crit), depressed (because when and how is that going to change?), terrified (of either being forced at some point to work for someone who designs buildings of this quality, or of designing them myself - I mean, even these guys had to pass architecture school, right?) and reassured (because if these morons can get paid work I should be fine!)

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