Liverpool Building Competition, Crosby Mersey Observatory, Proposals, Winner, Architect

Mersey Observatory Competition

Liverpool Building Design Contest, Crosby, northwest England Architecture – design by Duggan Morris Architects

Mersey Observatory

Location: Crosby

Winner announced March 2007
RIBA Architecture Competition
Shortlist of 5

Mersey Observatory Winner : Duggan Morris Architects

The Observatory is expected to cost around £11.6 million.

The Mersey Observatory must operate as a successful tourist attraction to cover the costs of maintenance and staff. The feasibility study carried out before the design competition estimates that on average people will spend £5 per person at the Observatory – this includes the café, shop and entry fee for the tower.

If all goes to plan, the Observatory tower will open sometime in 2011-12.

The Observatory would replace the existing radar tower near Crosby beach, which would be demolished, and stand as third tourist attraction alongside Crosby Coastal Park and the iron men of Antony Gormley’s Another Place.

Duggan Morris Architects design team:
Elliott Wood – Structural Engineers
Skelly & Couch – Services & Sustainability Engineers
Billings Associates – Cladding Engineers
Davis Langdon – Quantity Surveyors
Arup – Ecology and Fire

Mersey Observatory Competition
92 entries
Deadline was 21 Dec 2007

RIBA PR: 19 Feb 2008
The Mersey Observatory – Exhibition of entries
Venue: CUBE Gallery, 113 – 115 Portland St, Manchester
15 Mar -26 Apr 2008

An exhibition of the entries for the Mersey Observatory competition is to be showcased at the CUBE Gallery.

An RIBA architectural competition was launched in October 2007 to give access to one of the finest – but most rarely seen – views anywhere in Britain.

The competition was 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. The design was to inspire and encourage people to visit the site and understand the dynamics of man and nature on the coastal edge.

The competition attracted an outstanding response with nearly 100 entries received worldwide. Five practices were shortlisted to prepare further detailed designs and these have been featured at a public exhibition. The winning design will be selected at a jury panel meeting on the 17th March.

On display at CUBE will be all the entries for this competition.

Walter Menzies, chair of the Mersey Observatory steering group and chief executive of the Mersey Basin Campaign, said: “The Mersey Observatory could have no more magnificent site. 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.”

Jack Hale, Head of Development at CUBE, said “This is a superb opportunity to view the full range and creativity of all the entries, submitted for this wonderful waterfront site.”

New Liverpool developments : photos

Project Background
The competition is to find a replacement for the disused radar tower that stands between Liverpool docks and Crosby Beach. It calls for an Observatory that will become a major landmark and tourist attraction, drawing in up to 250,000 visitors per year.

From the Observatory people will be able to see the full cityscape of Liverpool, Crosby Beach with its famous installation of 100 iron figures by artist Antony Gormley, the internationally important and protected bird life of the open coast, the vast working docks on the River Mersey, the 100m high wind turbines on the dockside, Liverpool Bay and the Irish Sea, the Wirral Peninsula and, beyond it, the mountains of North Wales. It will be an ideal place from which to watch the huge ships entering and leaving one of Europe’s busiest ports.

The Observatory will be the first spectacular landmark seen by visiting tourists onboard cruise ships coming into the new landing facility at the Pier Head.

It will be one of three complementary attractions making Crosby beach a genuine tourist attraction where people can spend all day. One is the installation Another Place by renowned artist Antony Gormley. The other is the planned Sefton Water Centre, a major water sports, events and educational facility.

The Observatory will 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 competition is being backed by a strong partnership that includes the Northwest Regional Development Agency, Mersey Waterfront, the Mersey Basin Campaign and Peel Holdings – owner of Liverpool docks and one of the UK’s leading developers.

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.

Mersey Waterfront is a far reaching programme set up to regenerate the City Region’s 145km (90 mile) coastline. It connects the waterfront’s communities and assets across the districts of Sefton, Wirral, Liverpool and Halton, and aims to create an internationally acclaimed waterfront to compete with cities like Sydney and Toronto. Mersey Waterfront is funded through the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and is hosted by The Mersey Partnership.

Northwest Regional Development Agency is one of nine regional development agencies established by the government to develop the English regions.

The Agency leads the economic development and regeneration of England’s Northwest and is responsible for:

Supporting business growth and encouraging investment
Matching skills provision to employer needs
Creating the conditions for economic growth
Connecting the region through effective transport and communication infrastructure
Promoting the region’s outstanding quality of life

With a budget of £1.5 billion over the next three years, the agency is responsible for directly influencing £1.2 billion of other public and private sector investment into the region over the next three years to support the delivery of the Regional Economic Strategy (RES).
For more information visit or

The Mersey Docks & Harbour Company is part of Peel Ports Division. The Port of Liverpool handles in excess of 32 million tonnes of cargo p.a. and handles more container trade with the U.S.A. and Canada than any other UK port. Peel Ports operate the ports of Mersey Docks & Harbour Company, Clydeport and the Manchester Ship Canal, providing a broad range of port facilities and services to shippers and cargo owners.

RIBA Information : 30 Oct 2007

The Mersey Observatory – International Open Design Competition

The RIBA Competitions Office is pleased to announce the launch of a new international open competition for the design of The Mersey Observatory at the site of the disused Radar Tower that stands between Crosby Beach and Liverpool Docks. The design competition is being promoted by The Mersey Basin Campaign in conjunction with the Northwest Regional Development Agency and Mersey Waterfront Regional Park.

Whilst affording one of the finest offshore coastal views in Britain, Crosby Radar Tower’s location within a working part of Liverpool harbour, has previously resulted in restricted public access to the site. The Mersey Observatory project offers a unique opportunity to create a major new landmark and visitor attraction that will give stunning views of the Irish Sea, Liverpool Bay, the Wirral Peninsula, Sefton Coast, Liverpool’s skyline and the mountains of North Wales beyond. The site also provides a bird’s eye view of the Port of Liverpool dock operation at Seaforth and will eanable visitors to see at close quarters the power of the Mersey’s tides and wildlife the Estuary supports.

The adjacent Crosby Beach is also home to Antony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ installation of life-size, cast-iron figures that gaze resolutely out across the Irish Sea. Walter Menzies, Chair of the Mersey Basin Campaign said, “The River Mersey changed the world. There is no finer location on the waterfront from which to explore its past, present and future.”

The Competition Brief calls for an architecturally striking, international signature structure for the Liverpool City Region, with a visitor facility that will showcase the importance of the River Mersey and the dynamics of man and nature on the coastal edge. Entries are invited from architects, or architect-led design teams, which will be judged anonymously at the First Stage. The authors of up to six schemes will then be invited to develop their design proposals and present them to a Jury Panel at interview. Each Stage Two competitor will receive an honorarium of GBP £6,000 (+VAT).

Deadline for Stage One submissions was 10 Dec 2007

Location: Crosby, North Liverpool, Northwest England, UK

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