Royal Liver Building Liverpool, UK
Opened in 1911 to accommodate the Royal Liver Assurance Group, The Royal Liver Building is one of Liverpool’s Three Graces along with the neighbouring Cunard Building and The Port of Liverpool Building.
The 3 buildings line the waterfront as part of Liverpool’s UNESCO-designated World Heritage Maritime Mercantile City. Embracing the building’s commercial heritage, the initial refurbishment secures The Royal Liver Building’s adaptability to ever-changing commercial market needs – in a sensitive manner that conserves and enhances its Grade I-listed status.
Following a refurbishment programme in 2008, along with earlier 1970s alterations, a review was required to shape a holistic, coherent approach to realise the building’s letting and visitor potential – while consolidating its identity in the City.
The first phase of refurbishment breathes new life into this iconic, Grade I-listed building, creating a light-filled, flexible workspace that places employee health and wellbeing at the design’s heart.
Initial work defined a long-term vision and masterplan, including the Royal Liver Building 360 attraction, A-Grade office space, amenities and future use of the roof space.
Early engagement, particularly with existing tenants, deepened a collective understanding of the vision and highlighted space and amenity types that would most improve the daily experience – while attracting new and retaining existing occupants.
The initial refurbishment reactivates a large vacant unit, which spans approximately 4,850 sq.ft of the basement, ground, mezzanine and first floor levels, set around the east atrium lightwell.
Responding to market demand, a greater variety of flexible and smaller suites are offered with desired social amenities, including a café-bar, breakout spaces, meeting rooms and kitchenettes. The interior fit-out was designed by award-winning practice 2M2 Studio. These also extend the period of time the building is in use. Health and wellbeing are considered, with a basement fitness centre, yoga studio, lockers, shower facilities and secure cycle storage to aid and encourage active travel.
The design realises client and tenant aspirations for more engaging environments.
The double-height central atrium is activated by the café-bar and seating areas for collaborative working, informal meetings and breaks. Uncovered original features combine with high-quality finishes reflect the building’s industrial heritage in a contemporary manner. Exposed concrete, particularly in the basement suite, references original innovations of the building – one of the first in the world to be constructed using reinforced concrete.
A bright, airy environment maximises natural light, which floods through the original lightwell into the atrium and is enhanced by glazed screens to the surrounding office areas. A new walkway around the atrium at mezzanine level heightens the sense of activity and is connected to the ground floor café-bar with a new feature staircase.
Significantly, the eastern and western atriums now connect, creating a ground floor communal concourse throughout the building. This vastly improves connectivity between the city centre to the east and Waterfront area to the west.
The original Strand Entrance has been reinstated and the internal vertical circulation core reconfigured, which creates an unobstructed axis and greater permeability through the building. Early engagement with a historic buildings consultant, local authority and Historic England ensured developments affecting the fabric and external appearance were acceptable and sensitively implemented.
While the building fabric could not be changed, the building structure was exposed within these works, increasing thermal mass. The building’s heavy structure provides a slow thermal response, allowing energy to be embodied within the building fabric and maximising system efficiency in heating and cooling.