“The house is a crypt, predestined to be buried in its turn”(Poe, “Fall of The House of Usher”)
As the Lewis’s building in Liverpool nears (re) completion,it seems timely to make a few observations:
1.Ironically, at this time of the near re-animation of this iconic building, the main construction firm , Merepark, has gone into liquidation(though another one has been found). Lewis’s seems to be haunted(still; in its current liminal state)by a series of collapses and liquidations(when it was still the one shop, it went into administration and buy-out, I think, 3 times, becoming more and more a spectre of itself). It is as if the massive edifice, even now, cannot quite get beyond Sebald’s adage that vast, otiose buildings carry the seeds of their own destruction within them. But, this is only, in my own lacanian Imaginary world, correct. In reality Lewis’s building is nearly ready for its future amalgam of shopping arcade(s), hotel, carpark, cinema and other retail outlets. Whether the lay-out is to be psychogeographically pleasing remains to be seen; it certainly will not be democratic, (unless there is some concession in the form of free public space!).
As I have written before, Lewis’s, till final closure in may 2010, was a (half)living relic, surviving beyond its time; a half-dead, half-alive remnant/semi-museum,( much in the way that Benjamin’s Arcades were); it was a liminal space on the threshold of capitalism, and bore the derridean “trace” of its past with its zombie-like present and (now) its future re-animation; but with the re-vitalisation unlikely to fulfil Derrida’s idea of hauntology beacuse the building will re-invent itself as, this time, a successful capitalist haven;much in opposition to the shop, in its last 20 years, with blocked-off floors and stairways; a cafe with a broken window and a (sometimes) broken coffee machine(but, yet, like the Arcades, full of charm and poignancy). It was almost a Poe-esque crypt then. I felt like I WAS, eerily, in a museumhttps://decayetude.wordpress.com/2010/06/29/desuetudeimages-and-text-on-decay-and-memory-inspired-by-sebald-and-the-death-of-a-department-store/. Like Eastbourne pierhttps://decayetude.wordpress.com/2012/10/20/a-gap-in-timeeastbourne-and-brightonswest-piersa-sebaldian-hommage-by-steven-benson/ ,where its only denizens were elderly people, Lewis’s inhabited a psychogeographical psychic space of doors to nowhere, nostalgia and general liminality and decrepitude. It was a unheimlische heimat, both comfortingly re-assuring and homely yet , simultaneously, uncannily, UNhomely; it presaged death.
As the building, still proudly emblazoned with original Lewis’s signage and “Dickie Lewis”, the statue, is reborn, we should contemplate this annihilation of the old store. But i hope it is not quite annihilation and there ARE a few guaranteed traces from the past into the present and future; the Apart Hotel has retained the beautifully coloured Festival of Britain murals in original situ and incorporated into their Breakfast room; and the Mersey Room wood engravings are along the corridors of the (now open) hotel. Thanks to Adagio/Apart Hotels and the conservationist planners for ensuring this(though, sadly, these remnants are not accessible to the general public, unless they book into the Hotel!).
It will be odd, possibly uncanny(a sort of unheimliche heimat feeling again) re-entering the new, old Lewis’s Building. I should imagine it shall be a difficult transition.But, instead of the undoubted(though morbid) attraction of a zombie-like museum, we shall have SOMETHING reborn/re-animated; whether in the debordian sense of a true architectural/urban design reflection of what the people want, or as some faceless capitalist monstrosity, remains, again, to be seen(pun intended!)
POSTSCRIPT. I notice, passing Lewis’s today(3.8.13)building work seems to have halted