Schmidt Hammer Lassen to create maritime education hub for Liverpool

Schmidt Hammer Lassen has unveiled plans for a maritime education centre in Birkenhead, across the river from central Liverpool, which will be anchored by 19th-century hydraulics tower.

The £20 million Maritime Knowledge Hub will become of the Wirral Waters redevelopment scheme, which is being overseen by Peel Land & Property.

Following an invited competition, Danish firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen and local practice Ellis Williams Architects were selected to transform part of the dockside site into a facility for marine engineering research, survival training and business development.

“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, in a statement.

The focal point of the hub will be a 19th-century hydraulic tower that was largely destroyed during bombing in World War II. The brick building will contain three pools, several meeting rooms, and be topped with an observatory that will offer views across Liverpool.

Next to the historic tower will sit a contrasting modern building composed of a white, rectilinear volumes, which will contain a large tank for a state-of-the-art survival training centre, as well as a new office space and teaching rooms.

Interiors will be finished in a simple, industrial-style intended to mimic the modest appearance of offshore buildings – ceiling pipes will be left exposed and there will be ample use of raw materials like steel and concrete.

The architects will then erect a wall of reused bricks around both buildings. Meant to appear as a “visual link [between] past and future”, the barrier will shield visitors and employees from the high winds caused by the nearby River Mersey.

By closing off the building the practice’s will also be able to create a handful of intimate outdoor spaces, including a courtyard and three small gardens.

The development is the sister project of The Liverpool Waters masterplan, which recently caused contention after UNESCO warned that the construction of a new 60-hectare mixed-use scheme could threaten the city’s World Heritage status.

Schmidt Hammer Lassen has recently revealed plans to renovate a former brewery in Riga, Latvia, where they’ll introduce a hotel, public plaza and several offices.

Project credits:

Architect and landscape architect: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects
Local architect: Ellis Williams Architects
Master planner: Parkinson

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