Urban Splash at 25: A Retrospective of Britain’s Maverick Architects

Pioneering architecture firm Urban Splash has gained an impressive reputation for bold designs and a maverick approach to the development process, bagging 14 RIBA Awards in the process. Now the practice is the subject of ‘It Will Never Work’, an exhibition in partnership with RIBA North that opened in Liverpool at the end of March

Once the upstarts of the British architecture scene, Urban Splash is turning 25, and is now seen as one of the leading practices in the country, with a host of awards  under its belt. But this success hasn’t been achieved by following the rules, which is why the company is the subject of a new exhibition entitled ‘It Will Never Work’.

Being held at RIBA North’s National Architecture Centre on Liverpool’s Waterfront, the exhibition, a joint collaboration between RIBA North and Urban Splash, looks at how the maverick firm took a fresh approach to the development process, drawing on the cultural backdrop of the time.

 “It Will Never Work is an unplanned trip from Madchester to Brexit via Easyjet and driverless cars, with a quick history of unorthodox thinking and a few buildings along the way,” said Suzy Jones, director of RIBA North – National Architecture Centre, at the exhibition’s launch. “We are delighted to unveil this exhibition which will give visitors a chance to explore some key Urban Splash projects and ‘peek under the bonnet’ of the company.”

“We’ve had such an exciting 25 years using great design to create transformative projects around the country and I’m thrilled we can now return to our founding city to celebrate the work we’ve done,” added Jonathan Falkingham MBE, architect and co-founder of Urban Splash. “It was in the Ropewalks area that Tom Bloxham and I first met and decided to take on the challenge of transforming Liverpool Palace; we’ve come a long way since then and this exhibition looks at those early efforts right through to the developments we are working on today.”

Set to run in Liverpool for three months, the exhibition will then go on tour around the UK. ““It’s been a humbling exercise looking back at the roots of the business; this is an exciting opportunity to chronicle the work we have completed and set out our plans for transforming even more places in the coming years,” concluded Tom Bloxham MBE, Urban Splash chairman.