National Museums Liverpool: Waterfront Transformation

It is a privilege to have been asked by the National Museums Liverpool to manage its competition to find a multi-disciplinary team to enhance part of the city's historic waterfront....

The competition is expected to launch in March 2021 so watch this space!

Spanning the area between the Royal Albert Dock and Mann Island, the transformation project will take in key landmarks linking back to Liverpool’s prominence as one of the world’s greatest and busiest trading ports in the 18th century.

The competition led by Colander Associates, will seek to appoint a multi-disciplinary team for the development of the public spaces, raising the profile of the area whilst responding to the history of the site, developing new pedestrian routes, and allowing for more commercial and cultural opportunities on the waterfront, further enhancing the area alongside the hugely popular Royal Albert Dock. The brief will encourage a diverse team of architects, engineers, artists, and other creative people – embracing and fully reflecting Liverpool and the wider City Region demographic. The Museums will work closely with Colander to run an inclusive design competition and appoint a team that demonstrates their commitment to diversity.

“With the launch of our placemaking competition in March, we hope to reinvent some of Liverpool’s much-loved public spaces and create an exciting, welcoming, and engaging environment for the benefit of the museums, our visitors, colleagues and the many businesses in the area and wider city, whilst enabling the stories told at our three waterfront museums to also be visible beyond our buildings."

— Laura Pye, Director of National Museums Liverpool

Plans for new pedestrian bridges will create a cohesive connectivity and increased accessibility in the area, and the highlight of the building transformations will be the redevelopment of the Dr Martin Luther King Jr Building – formerly the Dock Traffic Office – which stands as a major iconic focal point of the Royal Albert Dock and will provide a dramatic and prominent entrance to the city’s International Slavery Museum.

The transformation will also extend into the Maritime Museum, as gallery spaces and narratives around Liverpool’s maritime history will be developed and evolved to support and complement the International Slavery Museum, along with a new special exhibition space, community spaces and shared facilities that will create a seamless visitor experience between both museums.

“Liverpool became the epicentre of the transatlantic slave trade, hence the importance of the stories we tell and the work we do at the International Slavery Museum. This exciting and timely transformation project will allow the Museum to grow, develop and be central to national and global discourses. These include racial inequality, other legacies of transatlantic slavery, being actively anti-racist, diverse, and inclusive."

— Dr Richard Benjamin, Head of the International Slavery Museum

The Royal Albert Dock is a powerful location for the International Slavery Museum to tell not only Liverpool’s story, but also the global story of slavery in an historical context and in current times. The expansion of the International Slavery Museum will create a much stronger, physical presence on the waterfront, symbolising the city’s commitment to addressing its ties to the transatlantic slave trade, and framing how visitors understand the history of the docks and the built environment surrounding them.

We can't wait to get started!