U5 #2 A – Briefing: Choice of Building

So, in the afternoon, we come back with our chosen book and chosen building, and present it in the group.

The Building into a Book

It had to be a building that would allow me to translate into a grid, in which I would have to have enough interest to analyse it and accessible for me to be able to be entered.
I decided to work on the Liberty Shop building on Marylebone Street right next to Regent Street. It came into my mind because I remember being very interested in visiting it (the Department Store, that is) when I first came to London, mostly because of the famous Liberty Prints, instead of the usual department stores like Selfridges. But also because my travel booklet wrote about its building and atmosphere so eloquent, and it sounded so cozy. Which indeed it was, while also being impressive in its size. The impression it left on me while I first visited it are the reasons I wanted to go back and get to know its history and details, along with its coziness and architectural origines. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to go visit and experience the building on the day of the briefing, so I decided to go there another day to take photographs. Instead I had to base my first research on internet research.

The building designed for Arthur Liberty’s department store was finished in 1929. It gives the impression of an old house, while being a neo-tudor style building, making it feel like a house with a lot of stories to tell. The fronts are made out of wood bars that stand in contrast with the white paint that covers the façade in between. Inside, the atmosphere is designed to make you feel at home, with small rooms instead of open spaces. There are three large open areas which let you see onto other levels. Due to its size, it seemed very chaotic, and you can easily get lost in it as it doesn’t give you a precise overview. You experience the building inside, which is covered by wood and woodcarvings, step by step, and you can very easily get lost inside of it, despite signs that show you where everything is, you can’t draw yourself a virtual map in the system of “I have to take these stairs to this level and then go there to get to this.”. You mostly walk through the building looking for what you are looking after. At least in the beginning, until you know the building. (Which I still don’t, despite of having found a map only a month later, on the internet, as they don’t have printed maps lying around in the store. It is probably part of their marketing plan to make people walk through areas in order to reach what they are actually looking to buy)

So: what basically interested me most in the building was it’s history, atmosphere as well as the chaotic organisation of the building.

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