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Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects to design Maritime Knowledge Hub in Liverpool

United Kingdom - Jun 7, 2018 - 06:19   4147 views

Danish architecture firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects has won an invited competition to design the new Maritime Knowledge Hub at Wirral Waters in Liverpool, United Kingdom. The whole facility building will be dedicated to marine engineering research and development, survival training, business incubation, workspace, and events at the heart of the Wirral Waters redevelopment project in the United Kingdom's Liverpool City Region.

The 6,400-square-metre facility will be developed as one of the most important elements of the entire Wirral Waters regeneration project that aims to transform the left bank of the River Mersey into an internationally recognisable destination.

"The Maritime Knowledge Hub will create a place for innovation, collaboration, learning, training, and business development in the maritime sectors, and will put Liverpool and the UK on the marine and architectural industries' global stage," said Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects in its press release. 

Developed by Peel Land and Property, in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University, Mersey Maritime, and Wirral Council, the SHL will closely work with local firm Ellis Williams Architects to design the £20 million Maritime Knowledge Hub.

The firms will work with Parkinson Inc., the master planner for Wirral Waters. The historic Hydraulic Tower is the Hub's centrepiece, which was modelled after the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy, that now lies largely derelict, having been bombed in World War II. A second, new building, located adjacent to the tower, will comprise new office, incubation, teaching, and cultural space, and will house a tank for a state-of-the-art Offshore Survival Training Centre.

The Maritime Knowledge Hub will protect the character of the 19th century Hydraulic Tower as original as possible, while the new glowing boxes will house the Maritime Industries Centre's work and meeting spaces. 

Three pools including a HydroLab, a café and visitors' portal, and an observatory will provide views over Wirral Waters and the greater Liverpool area in the new additions. 

The new building will accommodate the bulk of the Marine Technology Centre, the Offshore Survival Training Centre, and the Marine Simulation and Training Centre, and will drive research and innovation by bringing education, employers and businesses together.

"Designing a complex that is one of the most transformative new developments in the Liverpool region called for thoughtful architectural design that respects the heritage of the existing building, while looking towards the future," said Morten Schmidt, Founding Partner of Schmidt Hammer Lassen. 

"Our design brings the Hydraulic Tower back to life while creating an architectural expression that connects new and old through beautiful courtyards, a unifying façade, and complementary building volumes."

The studio will integrate a plenty of trees and vegetation to the roof of the building, and will use raw and recycled materials, and the blending of the existing historic elements with the new high design building.

"A wall of reused bricks visually linking past and future will surround the two buildings that make up the Maritime Knowledge Hub, and will provide shelter for staff and visitors against the exposed conditions caused by the River Mersey's open waters and high winds. The wall will also create intimate outdoor spaces including three pocket gardens and an existing central courtyard that will be reimagined with thoughtful new details. The integration of green spaces will extend to roof terraces that can be used for meetings and events," explained in the statement.

The studio creates a dynamic composition with the existing, old Hydraulic Tower and the new boxy volumes, which are diverse in shape and richly ornamented. "The new additions, which will appear as a series of glowing boxes at night, strive to achieve the opposite effect, serving as a subtle, simple contrast to the Liverpool landmark," said the architects. 

The interiors of the buildings will feature open ceilings with visible trays and pipes, and will consist of raw materials such as steel and concrete, serving the simple, low maintenance needs of offshore buildings.

Project facts

Client: Peel Land and Property

Architect/ Landscape Architect: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

Local Architect: Ellis Williams Architects

Master Planner: Parkinson Inc.

Building Area: 6,400 m2

Competition: 2018, First prize in an invited competition

Status: Ongoing

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