National Museums Liverpool (NML) is recruiting a masterplanner for an ambitious rethink of its historic waterfront campus
The multidisciplinary team chosen for the maximum £80,000 contract will draw up a 10-year strategy to upgrade the historic maritime quarter, which is home to a cluster of landmark NML venues and is at the heart of Liverpool’s UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The project will upgrade public realm, deliver interventions, and redevelop several ‘under-utilised’ buildings including the Pilotage, Great Western Railway Building, Canning Graving Docks, Piermaster’s House, Piermaster’s Office, the Cooperage, and Mermaid House. Proposals to refurbish the Merseyside Maritime Museum and modify 3XN’s Museum of Liverpool will also be required.
In its brief, NML says: ‘We wish to create an outstanding visitor destination that connects Liverpool’s stunning waterfront with the city, the River Mersey and the significant buildings that together all create such a strong visual identity.
‘The aim of the project is to analyse what makes a successful visitor attraction, the opportunities offered by the site and existing venues, and to use the conclusions to drive development. As such, the consultancy team may not necessarily be architect led, however, they must possess the broad range of skills to address the brief. Expertise is required in the design of hospitality, retail, exhibition, events, work and play spaces.’
NML was created in the mid-1980s and is responsible for a number of venues across the city, including several museums focusing on maritime history clustered close to the iconic Three Graces and Albert Dock. 3XN and AEW Architects completed the £68 million Museum of Liverpool on Mann Island for NML eight years ago.
The latest project aims to create new ‘opportunities for visitors to linger within the unique setting’ by delivering a variety of activities, art installations and cultural events. The masterplan will focus on upgrading public realm across the former 18th-century dockland area, modifying existing venues and bringing other disused structures into public use.
Key ambitions include delivering a series of minor modifications to the 2011 Museum of Liverpool and overhauling the nearby Merseyside Maritime Museum which also hosts the International Slavery Museum and the Border Force’s national museum.
Other planned upgrades include finding new uses for the Piermaster’s House, Piermaster’s Office, Cooperage and Mermaid House, and rethinking the Grade II-listed Canning Graving Docks which remain in use today.
Applicants must have professional indemnity insurance of at least £1 million, public liability insurance of £5 million, and employer’s liability insurance of £5 million. Bids will be evaluated 25 per cent on skill, 30 per cent on experience, 15 per cent on team composition, and 30 per cent on price.
NML will interview a maximum of six teams. The deadline for application is midday, 1 April.
How to apply
View the contract notice for more information
National Museums Liverpool
127 Dale Street
Mairi Johnson, director of estates, National Museums Liverpool
What is your vision for the Liverpool Waterfront Masterplan?
Our site is situated within the heart of Liverpool’s maritime World Heritage Site, the starting point to understanding Liverpool and its global connections. This location is an unrealised focal point for sharing the narrative of Liverpool’s past, present and future.
NML has several dockside buildings and a large area of outside space, including the historically important Canning Graving Docks. Some large parts of these are not accessible to the public and we need some creative suggestions for how the underused buildings and spaces could be used to complement our other museums nearby.
We wish to create an outstanding visitor destination that connects Liverpool’s stunning waterfront with the city, the River Mersey and the significant buildings that together all create such a strong visual identity.
To do this we will commission a multidisciplinary team of consultants to assist in creating a masterplan for the site and surrounding buildings. This will enable NML to undertake a number of interventions within the site that will create opportunities for visitors to linger within the unique setting and to engage with the spirit of the place through a range of activities – viewing items from NML’s collections, enjoying art installations and participating in major cultural events.
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
At this stage, the outputs we are looking for are a set of briefs rather than developed designs. The approach will be to analyse what makes a successful visitor attraction, the opportunities offered by the site and existing venues, and to use the conclusions to drive proposals. As such, the consultancy team may not necessarily be architect-led, however, they must possess the broad range of skills to understand the opportunities offered by the different parts of the site. The special considerations of working with historic buildings will also be a factor and deciding on the best use for individual parts of the estate will be influenced as much by physical constraints of the site as by our need to breathe new life into it. Expertise in the design of exhibitions and visitor attractions, hospitality, retail, events, work and play spaces would all be useful.
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?
We expect that the masterplan process will result in a sequence of projects that will be realised over the next five-plus years as funding becomes available. Each one of these will be subject to its own design and procurement process.
We are also working on the expansion of the International Slavery Museum from its base in the Merseyside Maritime Museum, into the adjacent Martin Luther King Building. In addition, we are shaping some other projects that will lead to significant improvements to our collection stores and staff facilities.
Are there any other recent historic waterfront regeneration masterplans you have been impressed by?
The obvious precedents are the historic docks of Portsmouth, Chatham, Bristol and Belfast. At the moment NML has a small number of historic vessels that occupy the Canning Graving Docks and we are interested in exploring new ways that these powerful structures could be presented to visitors.