Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Festival House, Blackpool, by dRMM



De Rijke Marsh Morgan Architects’ seafront wedding chapel is the most successful of Blackpool’s efforts to reinvent itself architecturally
Sixty-four per cent of British males lost their virginity in Blackpool,” says Alex de Rijke, with a matter-of-fact Dutch directness. “We thought that was a nice starting point for our project.” Whether true or not, it is the kind of absurd statistic that has built the reputation of this plucky seaside town, home to innumerable firsts, biggests and mosts. Proud inventor of the helter skelter, as well as the world’s largest chip butty, Blackpool still reputedly attracts more visitors than the pyramids at Giza, the Statue of Liberty and the Taj Mahal combined. The big party-political conferences may be gone, but the town still plays host to the national pigeon fanciers’ show and the final of Strictly Come Dancing, so all is not lost.
Drawn by the lure of a bawdy night out, a good proportion of Blackpool’s 13 million annual visitors is made up of stag and hen parties, which can regularly be seen rampaging up and down the promenade like rampant flocks of migratory fowl. They bring welcome cash, but not-so-welcome antics — a tide of vulgarity that finally led the council to take the exotic measure of banning inflatable genitalia on the seafront in 2007.
This was also the year that the town lost out on its bid to host a super-casino — a stunted Burj Al Arab designed by Gensler — which promised £450 million of investment and 3,400 jobs. But gambling would have been a dubious salve for a place that suffers from the highest rate of antidepressant drug use in the UK; it went to Manchester instead and was promptly abandoned.
Read full article here.
Originally published in BD, 14 February 2012