It was rejected twice by the planners (political), so no panic at all.
Brunswick Dock is residential, except for the tower's site. The south ends
docks and the land beyond need to regenerate quickly. This tower would have
been the catalyst to attract further investment to this area. They are
lining up to build in the centre. There is not enough construction
companies to do the work. If the city did not have a height limit on
buildings, the city would resemble New York by now - even in 1950 they
rejected a city centre 50 floor plus glass block that looked like the Pan-Am
building in NY.
Relation to grade is an open book here as the area around is open to
If you are going to do it then have that stands out in an attractive way.
Brutalist Communist architecture stood out, however I would want it near me.
Wall to wall special is fine to me, rather than way to wall bland anycity,
anywhere out-of-the-box architecture. What you are saying build bland have
the odd iconic building. Best do the best you can at all times. Every
building should be designed to be special in some way. Cheapo speculative
dross made by fast buck money men should be discouraged. This tower is
clearly not one of those.
It is big and it is different that is clear. It is not an off-the-shelf
complete with instructions anywhere, anycity block. It is sail shaped to
give a maritime feel to an old maritime city, which none of the new building
around the quays are. They could be anywhere in England and more suited to
the edge of an inland town.
The views from the tower would be stunning, right into the North Wales hills
and out into Liverpool Bay.
It is mixed use: hotel, residential and some offices.
They are, and quite a way away.
There is water and a road between the tower and buildings on the hinderland.
Below: Ignore the old school in the foreground. The site it to the top
right, to the left of the yellow houses. The two sheds with the white roofs.
The area, as you can see is quite sparsely populated inland. The docks can
be the focus of the area encouraging further development.
No plan. UNESCO criticised the city for not having one, not even for the
World Heritage Sites. Everything is ad-hoc, on an as submitted basis.
The city built apartments on the docks quays and failed rendering the area
dead - the wrong type of designs completely. This tower will bring a mass of
people into the area adding needed vibrancy.
Below: A view from the opposite bank to Liverpool through Birkenhead Docks.
In the foreground is a ship with a red coloured hull - this is approx 20,000
tons, to give an idea of scale of things. The sea is to the left. On the
Liverpool bank to the right the white coloured sheds can be seen. To the
left of these is the proposed tower site.
BTW, Birkenhead Docks has this proposed - four 50 floor blocks and others:
Financial? No. My stake is that I was born about 750 yards from it.
That's incredible. That is the issue you need to address first, before
discussing any individual initiative. On this you should "giddyup". How can
anyone say this thing is or isn't appropriate without a clue of the shape of
the future? It's not sexy as an issue, but I'd suggest it's primary for your
Our local planners have just finally done an about face on height, after
decades of "height = bad/always", implemented in the most mind-numbingly
thoughtless way, but it's not all good news. The idiots have switched their
focus (now they're all green), but they are still around, screwing things
up, and we have a whole generation of almost-tall buildings that are
stumpy-looking like in the video.
BTW, I disagree strongly on the 'everybody's special' school of urban design
you've espoused. It's a conversation where everyone is screaming, and no one
is listening. Joni Mitchell wrote, "You don't know what you've got 'til it's
gone", and what you've got to lose is something we don't have: history.
(Yeah, I know you can't eat it....)
The dock water spaces are vast. I estimate the water spaces lost in the
Wirral opposite and Liverpool amount to the size of Venice. If someone comes
up with big idea to make money from a commercial setup that creates a
handful of jobs they may build. World Heritage Status stopped a lot of
this - well not all as they have selective amnesia. A Dock dating from the
1700s was filled in to build a small stadium, which is under construction
right now. See the web site.
The dock water spaces are best used for people to live around in vibrant
communities and the commercial aspects on the land side. Obvious eh? The
Liverpool Docks are vast - 7.5 miles in length with only about 3 miles of it
still commercial - usually vast container and bulk carriers. The port is
being extended out into the bay to accommodate Post-Panamax container ships.
This water space is the future. Other cities in the world would drool at the
Liverpool's legacy - yet the city just about values them and has filled many
in willy nilly.
The Brunswick Quay Tower was submitted when there was a height restriction
policy, however well away from the WHS. After adverse publicity the city
dropped its stance, which they said they never had anyway (they think we are
fools), after a new leader with different views came in. Then a London
minister dropped the plan which was openly being reported as going through
on a rubber stamp. If it was submitted today it would have gone through.
The city say OK build high, but then English Heritage step in, who can delay
like hell and get a scheme referred to London - they actually approved
Brunswick Quay. Then UNESCO step in on the World Heritage Status sites and
the buffers, which collectively is large. So we had the city, EH and UNESCO
all having a prod, which meant some developers just don't bother with the
city. They will look at Brunswick Quay and say "they turned that down!" and
that took years. They just don't want the hassle. Brunswick Quay was a local
developer who wanted to set a stamp on the city, others would have walked.
You design and build to the best you can. A city must have minimum standards
and not go below that.
History will bring in the bread - tourism is being promoted like hell. We
have a hell of a lot to lose.
From a child I have seen a largely Victorian city disappear before my eyes,
with some wonderful old buildings, and near whole districts, have had
bulldozers run through them. 200 year old buildings are left empty, rot and
fall down. We are saying keep what we have and the rest is do as you like. A
dynamic city has to change otherwise we end up like Venice - a dead city. I
have seen a world city slide down in front of my eyes - not nice to see.
Ian Nairn (architectural writer), Britain's Changing Towns, 1967:
"The scale and resilience of the buildings and people [of Liverpool] is
amazing - it is a world city, far more so than London or Manchester. It
doesn't feel like anywhere else in Lancashire: comparisons always end up
overseas - Dublin, or Boston, or Hamburg. The city is tremendous, and so,
right up to the First World War, were the abilities of the architects who
built over it - the less said about the last forty years the better.. The
centre is humane and convenient to walk around in, but never loses its
scale. And, in spite of the [Luftwaffe] bombings and the carelessness, it is
still full of superb buildings. Fifty years ago it must have outdone
anything in England."
Note: "outdone anything in England", including London.
London Illustrated News - 1886:
'Liverpool, thanks to modern science & commercial enterprise, to the spirit
& intelligence of the townsmen, & to the administration of the mersey docks
& harbour board, has become a wonder of the world. It is the New York of
Europe, a world city rather than merely British provincial'.
Here is the Birkenhead Docks proposal opposite Liverpool - no height
restrictions (the original link did not work)
It's not a quality question in the first instance for me. It is a "vision
thing". It's the big picture. It's public space, and quality of life, etc.
Any links to support that? I like to see it. I know Boston pretty well.
On a single glance this proposal seems much more convincing.There is plenty
of room for transition in scale, and it's already in place to some degree.
These areas are already scaled up from the smaller stuff surrounding it. The
whacky buildings float on a barge in the middle of the river. Are those
containers in front?
Yes, and the city is poor on that. The city needs a decent open square,
there was ample opportunity to create one, and they put a shopping complex
on the space. An urban throughway runs through the centre at the docks. This
can easily be a Ramblas as in Barcelona.
Well some pictures. Most are about 4 years out of date. Much building has
gone on 4 years:
One of the world's largest brick buildings at Stanley Dock. Derelict and
being converted to apartments - a Heritage Site.
Birkenhead Docks have a narrow river frontage and move 2.5 miles inland with
land all around. Ideal for development. Liverpool docks run with the
riverbank with a river one side. They are big and deep and the shape is
wonderful - a natural pool walled off at the river and locked in.
Wallasey Dock is filled in and cars on it. This is the parking area for the
Irish roll on, roll off ferries, which are in the river on a floating stage.
The tides are 32 foot, the 4th largest in the world. The ferries are to move
to the Liverpool side of the river. In summer an unexploded 1000 lb German
bomb was found in front of the ferries in the river mud. When exploded in
the bay it made one hell of a water fountain.
See what I mean....
"A SKYSCRAPER planned for Liverpool's waterfront will be reduced from 37 to
30 storeys, following scathing criticism in a report by the Commission for
Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE)."
The city planners, UNESCO, English Heritage and CABE all stick their oars
in. Would you develop in Liverpool?
A stumpy city emerges.
It appears London do what the hell it likes, while other cities cannot.
London must not have direct competition.
Ironically a Liverpool company is building this "Shard of Glass", but unable
to build such a building in their city.
When I was in Toronto about 5 years ago, I took a picture of a sort-
of-medium-height building (downtown; probably around Wellington St W
or Front Street, visible from a south-west angle) which at its top
had the most undecided collection of references.
I can probably locate the picture, but you may well know what I'm
talking about: a very standard tower to about 6 or 8 floors below
the top -- and then finished off with what for all the world looked
like a re-used design for a suburban house or something.
It was really, deeply, weird...
Architectural and topographical historian
Sorry -- I meant "medium" for the general height of the buildings
it sat amongst; average for that part of the skyline (as opposed
to notably taller, or clearly low-rise).
I'll see if I can dig out the picture.
Architectural and topographical historian
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