|3XN’s Museum of Liverpool|
|Wednesday, 27 July 2011 05:58|
The new Museum of Liverpool that has just opened on July 19th tells Liverpool’s story, its importance as one of the World’s great ports, and its cultural influence such as with the Beatles phenomenon. It is conceived as a meeting point for History, the People of Liverpool and visitors from around the globe. According to the Architect, Kim Herforth Nielsen, the project functions as much more than just a Building or a Museum.
As the largest National Museum to be built in the UK in over 100 years, and situated on a UNESCO World Heritage Site next to Liverpool’s famous ’Three Graces,’ Kim Herforth Nielsen was fully aware of the magnitude of the challenge, when it came to designing the new Museum of Liverpool.
’The Museum’s design is a result of a very rigorous process, where it was of utmost priority to listen to the city inhabitants, learn the city’s history and understand the potential of the historical site that the Museum now sits upon.’
The result is intended as a dynamic low-rise structure, which enters into a respectful dialogue with the harbour promenade’s taller historical buildings. This interaction should facilitate a modern and lively urban space. The design is reminiscent of the trading ships, which at one time dominated the harbour, while the façade’s relief pattern puts forward a new interpretation of the historical architectural detail in the ‘Three Graces.’ The enormous gabled windows open up towards the City and the Harbour, and therefore symbolically draw history into the Museum, while at the same time allow the curious to look in.
The Museum lies along the Mersey River in the center of Liverpool, and will function as a nexus, in that it physically connects the Harbour promenade with the Albert Dock, which today contains restaurants, museums and boutiques. The outdoor areas around the Museum offer seating with views to the water adding to the dynamic urban environment and serving as a meeting point for locals and visitors alike.
The theme is carried through into the Museum of Liverpool’s central atrium, with its sculptural sweeping staircase leading up to the galleries further encouraging social interaction. All of these functions result in Kim Herforth Nielsen choosing to describe the Museum as a structure that unites Liverpool.
’This Museum connects the city together on many levels - physically, socially and architecturally. The idea of creating a Museum as a nexus in both physical and symbolic expression has been central from the start. I am very satisfied to see that this ideal is carried out to the full in the completed structure.
The new Museum of Liverpool ambitions to become the World’s leading city history museum, showcasing social history and popular culture and will look at Britain and the world through the eyes of Liverpool. It is estimated that the new museum will attract at least 750,000 visitors on a yearly basis, and that Liverpool, with the Museum as a symbol of the Liverpool’s ongoing regeneration, will be elevated into the front rank of European tourist destinations, as well as providing a brilliant place for local families to find out about their own history.
Plans and Elevations
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Interview with Kim Herforth Nielsen:
The opening of the Museum of Liverpool coincides with 3XN’s 25 Year Anniversary. Does that make the project even more important for you?
Without a doubt! And not least because I view the Museum of Liverpool as one of the largest and most prestigious projects to emerge from the 3XN studio.
The Facade on the Museum of Liverpool has a very distinct pattern. Patterns are often associated with your facades. Why is that?
Traditional facades often deal with interruptions – windows for example. I wish to create a holistic kind of architecture, and a patterned façade ties the building together into one sculptural entity. By creating the pattern into a relief, as we did with the Museum of Liverpool, we give the façade an element of variation, as the changing light and shadow affect the relief’s expression. Origami is an inspirational art form for me – and it is one of the ideals that I put emphasis on when I work with the younger architects at 3XN. This is not just because of the aesthetics that come out of applying patterns, but also because using patterns can also create an efficiency in the amount of materials used in the façade’s design. This is the case in the Museum of Liverpool – here the pattern we used resulted in less wastage of stone material.
Another characteristic of your work which is also quite a focal point in the Museum of Liverpool are staircases. Can you explain why you often choose to do very sculptural and central staircases?
I view staircases as a central social room. It’s my experience that stairs are the generator for social interaction. People speak together when they walk together up or down a staircase. If the staircase is sculpturally executed and at the same time gives the user a beautiful overview, people will want to use it. The central staircase creates an animated central space in a building and ties together various rooms and floors in an organic way. It is also space optimizing in that people can avoid long corridors, which almost always contributes in a positive way to a building.
You have a particular interest in designing Cultural Buildings. Why might this be?
Because Cultural Buildings are the most challenging and enjoyable projects! The buildings we consider our most important are often Cultural Buildings. If they are designed well, they tell a story of the time, the city or nation that has brought them into being. Cultural Buildings need to be more than just their function, creating identity and awareness. This creates a requirement for the architect to interpret the symbolic potential that lies within a culture and express this through physical form.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 July 2011 07:18|