Turning the Place Over


What do you do with an abandoned building? Turn it into art. Such is the case in Liverpool where the British sculptor Richard Wilson has created Turning the Place Over, an ambitious intervention that removes an eight metre chunk of façade from a building in central Liverpool, rotates it and puts it back into place. An introduction to the piece by the Cass Sculpture Foundation describes it in more detail:

Turning the Place Over consists of an 8 metres diameter ovoid cut from the façade of a building and made to oscillate in three dimensions. The revolving façade rests on a specially designed giant rotator, usually used in the shipping and nuclear industries, and acts as a huge opening and closing ‘window’, offering recurrent glimpses of the interior during its constant cycle during daylight hours.

The ovoid section of facade is then mounted on a central spindle, aligned on a specific angle to the building. When at rest, the ovoid section of facade would fit flush into the rest of the building. The angled spindle is, however, placed on a set of powerful motorised industrial rollers and will rotate. As it rotates, the facade not only becomes completely inverted, but will also oscillate into the building and out into the street, revealing the interior of the building and only being flush with the building at one point during its rotation.

This astonishing feat of engineering will stun audiences on many levels. Disturbing and disorientating from a distance, from close-up passers-by have a thrilling experience as the building rotates above them.

Some observers have noted that Wilson’s intervention draws heavily from the work of Gordon Matta-Clark, an American architect and artist who carved up houses with a chainsaw in the 1970s. His work dwelled on the disintegration of the United States’ public life, including the decay of its cities; one of his more well-known efforts, very similar to Turning the Place Over, involved cutting out a large piece of wall from a New York warehouse and suspending it from a crane.

It’s not entirely clear what Wilson’s installation, which was commissioned by Liverpool in celebration of its designation as 2008’s European Capital of Culture, is trying to say. But it’s still remarkable, if only because it merges the public and private spheres of life into one, revealing the inner workings of a building that is normally shielded from passersby.


This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Monday December 24 2007at 05:12 am , filed under Architecture, Art and Design, Europe and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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