Blackburn Shopping Centre was built through the sixties in partnership between the Blackburn Corporation and the Laing Development Company, and was designed by the Preston based architectural firm Building Design Partnership (BDP). BDP, as evinced by their two recently listed projects Preston Bus Station and the Halifax Headquarters Building, were one of the few architectural practices of the period really able to exploit the aesthetic possibilities of a project of this scale. Whatever the aesthetic nuances or otherwise of the scheme, by any measure knocking down Blackburn’s Victorian city centre and replacing it with a shopping centre was a simply astonishing thing to do. Otto Saumarez Smith will argue that British modernism played out in distinct ways in its local provincial settings – with architectural culture jigsawing with the local ambitions and concerns of an industrial city.
21 May 2014, 19h-20h15, The ABA Gallery, London