Liverpool Arena & Convention Centre

Liverpool, UK

Forming a focal point for the city's 2008 European Capital of Culture celebrations, the WilkinsonEyre-designed civic buildings at Liverpool's Kings Waterfront provide a 10,000 seat multipurpose arena, a conference centre incorporating a 1,350 seat auditorium, and a 7,500m² exhibition facility, a major new public piazza, a 1,600 space multi-storey car park and 96 residential units. The brief demanded architecture of the highest quality, due to the historic setting next to the Albert Dock and adjacent to the World Heritage Site on the Mersey riverfront.

The development has achieved iconic status, defining Liverpool's regenerated waterfront with a landmark structure that unifies the building's varied functions in a single distinctive form. The arena was opened to the public in January 2008, with ex-Beatle Ringo Starr performing as part of the launch event for the Capital of Culture year.

The fluidly curved architectural form is a direct response to the river, mediating between water and city, and contrasting strongly with the orthogonal ranks of warehouses around the Albert Dock.

The original masterplan for King's Waterfront, developed by Liverpool Vision, proposed a major leisure venue but with the arena, conference centre and exhibition space as discrete elements.

WilkinsonEyre's design combines all of these functions to create a single complex, wrapped in a unifying skin and stretching low along the river as two sculptural forms on either side of a central galleria. This innovative strategy not only allows activities to overlap and share spaces within the building, but also draws in new audiences and brings vitality and activity to the waterfront. The site diagram helps to make the building welcoming for all, reinforcing routes between the city and the river.

The development has an iconic status, defining Liverpool's regenerated waterfront with a landmark structure which unifies the building's varied functions in a single distinctive form.