NEW designs, inspired by shipping containers, have been drawn up for a Liverpool tower that would be the tallest outside London, beating Manchester’s Beetham Tower by around 30 metres (100ft).
Criticism can be levelled at his stated inspiration for King Eddy Tower of shipping containers. This is in some ways a banal analogy. Any aesthetic pleasure to be found in shipping containers is accidental.
Hoylake-based Richmont Properties is behind the 67-storey, 199-metre building close to the waterfront at the junction of King Edward Street and Leeds Street.
It is the third design for the old King Edward pub site in the last five years. The Architectural Journal have christened it The King Eddy Tower.
Manchester-based Maurice Shapero was brought in after 2010 designs by Leach Rhodes Walker were rejected by CABE.
His plans will house 350 apartments, 21,000 sq ft of shops, 84,000 sq ft of offices and a 13,000 sq ft restaurant. They are expected to be submitted in March.
The application process is being funded by Richmont, which is co-owned by Wirral businessmen Christopher Richards and William Beaumont, but it is not yet clear if funding is in place for the tower. The application is being handled by Peter Buglass of Custard Pie Properties who also owns part of the site.
The plans for a site so close to the Three Graces could face resistance from the city's planners, but Shapero said: "We have had numerous meetings with the planners and have a letter from them unofficially giving their support to the present scheme. We asked them to provide this for the investors to alleviate their understandable concerns about financing another planning application."
Liverpool-based Y1 Developments was involved in the previous plans but it's not known if the company is still involved.
Shapero set up on his own eight years ago after working for David Chipperfield, Michael Wilford, and Steven Hodder in Manchester. His first major project was the Palmiro restaurant building in Whalley Range, Manchester.
I first encountered Maurice Shapero when I interviewed him for his south Manchester project for Palmiro Restaurant.
Concrete ShaperoThis shocked the suburb of Whalley Range with its concrete intrusion into a parade of red-brick Edwardian shops. It also immediately showed the man’s talent for powerful and clear design and that he was an intellect not easily put off.
The protracted debate over Peel Group’s Liverpool Waters proposals has been part of the Liverpool story for two years. UNESCO is seeking compromise on the giant scheme so it doesn't ruin the Pierhead's World Heritage Site status. Thing is, Liverpool Waters lies further from the World Heritage Site of the Pierhead than Shapero's.
It's a measure of the man that Shapero isn't terrified by that debate -as our quote above shows.
Still criticism can be levelled at his stated inspiration for a King Eddy Tower of shipping containers. This is in some ways a banal analogy. Any aesthetic pleasure to be found in shipping containers is accidental.
Maybe there is something vivid and impressive about long rows of multi-coloured containers stacked on a quayside under vast gantry cranes; the problem is that anybody can find beauty in unpredictable places.
Shapero might as well have said he was inspired by the irregular stone blocks in Jesse Hartley’s gargantuan nineteenth century Liverpool wharfside masonry. Or maybe in the boarded-up rows of windows in Anfield. It’s a bit meaningless.
Even Shapero seems doubtful over the notion. In typically convoluted architectural speech he's written: ‘The shipping container’ metaphor is a way to discover deeper truths and free creativity, rather than allow it to restrict us by operating at a level of literal representation. A generating idea must not become an attachment, but should act as a gateway to the ‘truth’.’
Either way, the idea will hardly endear him to popular opinion or laymen councillors with little knowledge of architecture. It would have been better to keep quiet about the containers and say something like, “The building will represent the pride, ambition and forward-thinking of Liverpool in the twenty-first century just as the Three Graces did in their day."
But if Liverpool declined the opportunity to build Will Allsop’s ‘Cloud’ next to the Pierhead and has agonised over the Liverpool Waters project it’s hard to see how Shapero’s building will become reality. This is a shame as it looks a real cracker.
We should keep an eye out for Shapero’s work in the North West, he’s come from nowhere to heavy-weight projects in a very short time. He’s the real deal in architectural terms.
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