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Image Credit: 'Machu Picchu' by Fabien Moliné

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To celebrate the end of a great year for culture, both in the UK and abroad, we’ve decided to share some of our personal highlights. For this, our final entry, we turn our gaze to architecture and discoveries.



Discoveries

I’m sure that the three of us who have become new dads throughout 2015 would all reply ‘fatherhood’! But in terms of culture, Peru is a country that has long been on BOP’s bucket list. This year we’ve been lucky enough to go several times, as part of our year-long mapping project with the Ministry of Culture and the British Embassy in Peru. Thankfully, Machu Pichu was as amazing as hoped – no small feat given the crowds and expectation level and the disappointment of other major heritage sites (e.g. Pyramids at Giza) – but not sure it can be classed as a ‘discovery’ in the true sense of the word, such is its fame. Instead, we’ll pick two other things, one specific the other pervasive.


The first is the Museo Larco in Lima, a small but exquisite museum run by a private foundation that contains a simply knockout collection of Peruvian ceramics, gold work and textiles, stretching way back beyond the Incas to the very earliest and mysterious civilisations in the country. The second is the food – believe the hype! Peruvian food is comfortably the best in South America. What’s so good is that it’s not just about the ceviche and the high end restaurants (though these are amazing), but even simple food like burgers are often made with ingredients and flare that would be to die for over here.




Advising the Irish city on a cultural strategy to support its 2020 European Capital of Culture bid, BOP similarly fell under the spell of the city of Limerick.


Set by the River Shannon, Limerick is set for great things culturally. Following its reign as Irish City of Culture in 2014, its cultural and heritage sector continues to thrive and grow, with its creative industries flourishing thanks to the great higher education institutions in the city. This city has many of the key ingredients which will make a great capital of culture: more artists per population than Dublin, an international airport, a beautiful historical city centre, a commitment to culture across the agencies, fantastic cultural organisations, as well as lots of fun!




Architecture

20 long years since a BOP’er left the folds of Manchester for university, he is invited back to attend the opening of HOME. The new home of arts hub, Cornerhouse - the starting point for a number of rewarding personal and professional relationships - this felt like a homecoming.


First impressions were underwhelming: the building’s anonymous exterior is the result of budgetary constraint and the functionality of a building that has to do a number of things very well. But viewed from the inside out, HOME excels. Its public spaces, bars and restaurant are airy, cool, inclusive, understated and welcoming in a variety of ways. The technological underpinnings of the place, its spaces, sounds and sightlines are meticulously thought through and delivered with an unobtrusive attention to detail that you would hope would become the hallmark of the next generation of cultural venues in the UK. This combination allows the audience to focus on the excellence and diversity of what is on offer. In its lack of pretentiousness, its Mancunian matter-of-factness, HOME allows its work and its people to shine and makes the consumption of culture something you want to do every day.



From our office windows, the imposing brutalist towers of the Barbican have long split opinion. However, it seems harmony has been found in a recent discovery across the Atlantic; the equally brutalist concrete tower that houses the Peruvian Ministry of Culture in Lima.



Explored first hand when BOP began our yearlong creative industry mapping project with the ministry, we were amazed by its elegant but dark beauty. Its outer structure feels like real life Minecraft and its interior has Blade Runner written all over it. The edifice was originally built in 1971, designed by architects Miguel Cruchaga, Miguel Rodrigo and Emilio Soyer, to house the Ministry of Fisheries. It now stands as one of the few brutalist public buildings constructed in the 60s and 70s in Lima, during a dark era of Peruvian history, intended to exalt the power and authority of the megalomaniac military regime of that time.


Another of our favourite architectural discoveries of the year was the little Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe, stumbled across during Open House London in the Autumn. While the museum itself is tiny, what really made it a discovery was unexpectedly being given access to one of the shafts of I.K. Brunel’s Thames Tunnel – the world’s first tunnel dug underneath a river! With work starting in 1825 to build a Thames crossing to help move cargo via horse and cart, it was the young Brunel’s first big engineering project and an astonishing engineering feat at that, requiring Brunel and his father to develop entirely new methods. When it opened in 1843, the Thames Tunnel was described by excited Victorians as the Eighth Wonder of the World, and was for a while the most visited tourist attraction in the world! Today, Londoners use it everyday when travelling from Rotherhithe to Wapping on the Overground, making it the oldest (and still used) river tunnel in the world. A fun fact next time you take a trip on the Overground.



Other BOP’s Best of 2015 to enjoy: Film, Music & TV and Art & Theatre

BOP's Best of 2015: Architecture & Discoveries

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By BOP Consulting

Richard Naylor

Director, Research

Richard is a world leading expert in research methodologies for the culture and the creative industries, having been an early innovator in the development of frameworks for measuring the economic and social impacts of cultural activities.

Richard Naylor - Director, Research | BOP Consulting

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Richard Naylor

Richard Naylor

Director, Research