Blank Studio Design + Architecture
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Mersey Observatory

Liverpool, UK (2007 - 2008) 

At the mouth of the River Mersey, the Mersey Observatory will offer unrivaled panoramic views of Liverpool Bay, the city’s skyline, the Mersey waterfront, the Port of Liverpool and the Welsh hills. It will stand proudly alongside Crosby Marine Park and the iron men of Antony Gormley’s 'Another Place.' It will provide a unique vantage point from which to observe the dynamic tides, powerful weather systems, stunning wildlife spectacle and the global port with its international shipping traffic.

Like the Mersey River gathering ships into the harbor, the project solution is a gathering of visitor experiences in a contained framework. The clustering of towers and voids create spaces for contemplative site interaction, engagement with multi-media displays and learning content, and carefully selected views. The project aims to revitalize and protect this critical site, while emphasizing the important elements that the Mersey and its surrounding environs represent, with a simple design solution that is at once timeless as well as iconic.

Clarity of concept and the simplicity of architectonic form make this a unique symbol of Merseyside. The new observatory stands not in isolation but is part of a greater overall composition. The site is both the gateway point and the pinnacle point of the “edge condition” created by the wind turbine towers. Only through a strong, elegant form can an object distinguish itself on this location, complete the overall composition, and satisfy the project program.

From cathedral spires to smokestacks and from lighthouses to ship masts, Liverpool has its share of lean, vertical forms. The project uses this classic morphology to generate instant legibility to the viewer. However, this structure aims to overcome the conventional reading of a ‘solid’ form by cladding the mass of the structure with cast glass cylinders. When illuminated by daylight or by artificial means the ‘mass’ of the structure becomes diaphanous, rendering the form as ethereal as the fog that rolls in from the sea.


Client: City of Liverpool

Status: Open competition complete - 2008