Design team sought for “ambitious” Liverpool dock redevelopment project

National Museums Liverpool is looking for a multi-disciplinary team to transform part of the UNESCO Heritage site into a “stunning leisure and cultural destination”.

National Museums Liverpool (NML) has launched a competition to find a multi-disciplinary design team that can transform the Canning Dock area of the city.

The competition is part of an “ambitious” project to redevelop the NML waterfront estate, which extends from the Mann Island development up to the Maritime and International Slavery Museums in the Royal Albert Dock.

Currently, Canning Dock has no access for the public. It is NML’s aim to see the space transformed into a “high-quality locations” that can provide for both locals and tourists.

Four focus points

The competition will be managed by Colander Associates and will be supported by £120,000 of funding from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority as part of its Race Equality Programme.

There are four parts of the project that design teams will need to pay attention to: the public realm, pedestrian bridges, Graving Docks and the North Shed.

For the public realm, the brief states plans should concentrate on creating an “agile” public space that considers wayfinding throughout. Additional considerations will include things like hard landscaping, lighting, seating and refuse disposal. This part of the project will also need to take into account a public art strategy, perhaps introducing sites for storytelling, performance, art or even museum artefacts.

As this area does not currently have public access, pedestrian bridges will need to be designed too. The brief states these should be “beautiful, iconic” structures, and will include one new swing bridge, as well as others.

The Graving Docks part of the project will need focus on the two docks and historic boats within them. The brief says one of these should be turned into a “Heritage Dock” that continues the narrative of the Maritime Museum and International Slavery Museum, while the other should be an “Experience Dock” which could provide commercial opportunities, as well as storytelling and performance.

Finally, the North Shed will need to be redesigned as a “waterfront focal point” that brings in visitors and pedestrians. The brief says plans here could include a temporary or permanent venue for commercial uses or events.

“Engender a sense of civic pride”

Throughout the project, the brief says “history, placemaking and commercial activity” should be considered.

The winning team will be asked to deliver the four elements listed in the brief, paying attention to social, economic and environmental sustainability.

That is, the space will need to “engender a sense of civic pride” the brief says, while also being cost effective and being beneficial for the environment.

Reinventing public spaces post-pandemic

With high street staples like Debenhams and Arcadia suffering because of the pandemic, the redevelopment of pubic spaces into areas of culture and leisure has been a hot topic in the last year.

Last month, urban design consultancy Publica announced similar plans to “reinvent” London’s Oxford Street. The suite of interventions included a “play-oriented” design approach and the introduction of several “cultural spaces”.

Meanwhile the Royal Docks unveiled a set of design guides to similarly improve its public realm in December 2020. The intention of the guides was to provide a framework to help designers working in the area enhance its potential and showcase the area’s landmarks.

More information

The competition will be split into two stages. The first will require an expression of interest which will need to be submitted by 23 April.

A shortlist of five teams is expected to be announced on 21 May. Each team shortlisted at stage two will be offered an honorarium of £10,000. The deadline for stage two submissions is 20 July.

A winner is expected to be announced 27 September.

For more information, head to the Colander website.

Banner image: Shutterstock

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