Ellis Williams. Photo courtesy RIBA
An exhibition of the entries for the Mersey Observatory competition is to be showcased at the CUBE Gallery in Manchester.
The architectural competition was launched by RIBA in October 2007 to give access to one of the finest but most rarely seen views anywhere in Britain and to find a replacement for the disused radar tower that stands between Liverpool docks and Crosby Beach.
The client, Mersey Basin Campaign, was looking for a design that was innovative, architecturally striking and a unique signature structure that would inspire and encourage people to visit the site and understand the dynamics of man and nature on the coastal edge.
Phos. Photo courtesy RIBA
Nearly 100 entries were received from practices worldwide with five practices shortlisted to prepare further detailed designs, which are featured at the public exhibition.
“The Mersey Observatory could have no more magnificent site,” said Walter Menzies, chair of the Mersey Observatory steering group and chief executive of the Mersey Basin Campaign. “Its stunning 360 degree panorama demanded imaginative responses and the architects have risen to the challenge. The five short listed entries brilliantly show the potential."
Designs for the observatory have to take into account that they need to become a major landmark and tourist attraction, drawing in up to 250,000 visitors per year. From the observatory visitors will be able to see a variety of vitas – from the Antony Gormley figures on Crosby beach to the coastline of the Wirral Peninsula down to the mountains of North Wales.
Studio 8. Photo courtesy RIBA
The Observatory will also be required to meet high standards of sustainability, including using renewable energy sources. It must also not impact negatively on the sites’ important nearby wildlife habitats, especially the foreshore.
The Mersey Basin Campaign is a 25 year government-backed partnership that brings together local authorities, businesses, voluntary organisations and government agencies to deliver water quality improvements and waterside regeneration throughout the Mersey Basin river system.
The five shortlisted practices are:
Ellis Williams Architects, Preston Brook
Duggan Morris Architects Ltd, London
Phos Architects, London
Farrell and Clark, Leeds
Studio 8 Architects, London
A winning design will be selected at a jury panel meeting on March 17 2008.
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