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julian treuherz

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a life in architecture

Julian Treuherz is immersed in the Victorian splendours of Liverpool's newly refurbished Walker Art Gallery, where he is keeper, but his roots are firmly in the Modern Movement.

His parents were German Jews who escaped 1930s Berlin. 'My parents had an active interest in architecture. Dad had decorated his flat with Bauhaus furniture, and my mother had worked in an architect's office for a while.'

So Treuherz was brought up in the Bauhaus aesthetic - in spite of, or perhaps because of, the terraces and semis of post-war Rochdale, where the family lived in a house designed by Yorkshire Modernist Peter Womersley in 1958. 'It was almost Scandinavian in design, with great sheet glass windows and vertical timber cladding, and Aalto furniture from Heal's.'

Treuherz knew Le Corbusier's Unité d'Habitation at Marseilles (pictured) from books, but didn't visit until recently. 'It was lifeenhancing to wake up there - the tremendous sense of space and the human proportions of its internal streets. It's so utterly different from our experience of a modern block of flats and illustrates how poor copies destroyed the ideal.'

Treuherz started his career at a time when Victorian buildings were under threat. But he loves the decorative riches of places such as the John Rylands' Library in Manchester, and admires the way that Gilbert Scott carried on the Victorian Gothic into the 20th century with Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral. 'I'm not religious but it has such a strong spiritual charge.'

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