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Shapero reveals new plans for 'cruciform' Liverpool skyscraper

Plans for the tallest building in the north of England have been redrawn - as a giant cross

Designed by Maurice Shapero, initial proposals for the 199m-tall skyscraper on the so-called King Edward site close to Liverpool’s historic waterfront were first revealed back in January (AJ 24.01.2012).

The 67-storey, mixed-use apartment and office tower scheme now features a cantilevered restaurant - ‘a horizontal element free from the tethers of ground’ - which Shapero admits creates a cruciform which could be contentious.

He said: ‘This is the symbol which references one of the ultimate places in human spirituality. Should I be restricted from using it when it has come from my own investigation, imagination, conclusion?’

The project is the latest in a long line of attempts to build a super high-rise on the plot the junction of the Strand and Leeds Street north of the city centre.

Manchester-based Leach Rhodes Walker (LRW) made at least three attempts to draw up viable tower plans for the site including a £130 million proposal for a 165m-tall, curved scheme in early 2010 (see more pictures here - AJ 08.02.10).

Shapero’s skyscraper is backed by Peter Buglass of Custard Pie Properties, who also owns part of the site which was once home to the King Edward Public House.

A planning application is expected to be submitted once funding issues have been resolved.

Original proposals (January 2012) Maurice Shapero's proposed 'King Eddy' tower in Liverpool

Original proposals (January 2012)

Explaining the design – Maurice Shapero

The King Edward Tower has been refined away from the metaphor of the shipping container. A hangover inherited from a previous life, a good enough starting point, but one which didn’t sound very true. A single apartment footprint staggers in plan and extrudes upwards defining a commercially viable hulk, a hand with fingers. Each finger exudes a strong vertical elegance at odds with its real mass. At once expressing function, but in conflict with its true purpose - the age old tension between art and capitalism.

All this verticality needs a counter, it invites opposition

All this verticality needs a counter, it invites opposition. A horizontal element free from the tethers of ground. A balancing feminine gesture to its own relentless Yang. A dramatic cantilevered restaurant breaks the form high in the sky. My favourite geometry - an intersection from opposite spatial directions - a Cartesian grid - the Cross. I come to it from rational inevitability. Two of the three extreme dimensions of space. The obvious question……this is the symbol which references one of the ultimate places in human spirituality. Should I be restricted from using it when it has come from my own investigation, imagination, conclusion? Equally obvious is my answer, to me hierarchy and ownership are as illusory as everything else in this world.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Christianity is represented in all its forms in Liverpool, and with the cities obvious historic and cultural links to Ireland and Catholicism perhaps no city in the UK could claim to be any more Christian. However, is the use of such a powerful symbol suitable in anything other than a place of worship. It seems to me that the architect here just intends to shock and cause debate for the sake of it – which is of course fine – but ultimately the building is a commercial venture, not one of religion. There is nothing wrong with making money or some people having more than others, but the use of such a powerful symbol being associated with commerce is careless to say the least. If such a scheme achieved planning consent it would be a failure of the planning system and demonstrate a lack of understanding of the importance of symbolism in architecture and when it is appropriate to reference such symbols.

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