Design Culture in Liverpool, 1880-1914: The Origins of the Liverpool School of Architecture

By Christopher Crouch | Go to book overview

Chapter Three
The Origins
of the Liverpool School of
Architecture and Applied Art:
Design Culture in Liverpool

NATIONAL initiatives, such as the Technical Instruction Act, enabled the development of ideas about architectural education in Liverpool, but were it not for its own vigorous cultural life the city would not have been able to capitalise upon the events taking place. The city had its own institutions and a number of powerful figures who were eager for cultural change. In examining their attitudes it is possible to see where Liverpudlian intellectual life meshed with national preoccupations and where and how the local initiatives developed. The interlocking web of personalities and the organisations created a cultural environment in Liverpool that contained the ingredients necessary for the instigation of the new venture in design education, and the political will to put it into operation. This sense of a city culture is important because it militates against the idea (as has been suggested in the past) 1 that the founding of the Liverpool School can be attributed to a specific individual, or to a single set of ideas. To do so is to neglect the wider cultural sphere with all its complications and contradictions, and to make the supposition that the concurrence of ideas by different protagonists also means their active collaboration. The city's institutions were neither self-sufficient nor self-enclosed. Institutions, whether the existing School of Art, the city council's Technical Instruction Committee, or the Liverpool Architectural Society were in constant negotiation with each other and with national bodies. Sometimes in agreement with each other, sometimes not, these multiple acts of

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