BCA Landscape: ‘The Voyage’, starting in 1839, recounts some of the defining moments of the epic Cunard story, during a period when Liverpool was considered as the gateway to the World. Following in-depth research by the team, a refined graphic response was developed that thematically frames the story around 16 ships launched between 1840 and 1947. Combinations of stone etchings, bronze illustrations and typography have been designed and incorporated into 50 metres of solid granite seating. From Nova Scotia to New York and the Mauretania to the Queen Mary; the artwork tells the tale of a company who had an immeasurable impact on the city’s culture and its people. The subtle positioning of the benches defines the occasional vehicle drop-off and service access area without the need for a clutter of bollards.
It is the stunning centre-piece of the newly completed public realm, providing a subtle and bespoke landscape setting befitting the Grade II* listed Cunard Building, one of Liverpool’s world famous three Graces.
Inspired by nearby herringbone clay pavers from the 1930’s, ship decks and ballroom floors from some of Cunard’s great ships, the recycled high-quality natural aggregate concrete surfacing has been carefully selected and designed to create a unique effect that changes depending on specific light conditions through-out the day and night. The team have also worked closely with the City’s maintenance department to ensure long–term robustness and ease of management
New carefully positioned tree planting and low level lighting help to frame and softens views, reflect the rhythm of the buildings, create dappled shade and help to mediate the civic scale of the buildings and street with people using the space. BCA Landscape worked closely with Liverpool Council to remove an extremely large digital highway car-parking sign and other street clutter from the area.
BCAL creatively involved a number of relevant stakeholders, including Liverpool University Archives, Liverpool Library Archives, ex-Cunard workers, the current Cunard historian and archivist and Liverpool Maritime Museum archives. The insight and information gained from these workshops was refined and integrated in innovate ways to ‘The Voyage’ vision.
Following the success of ‘The Voyage’ in re-imagining part of Liverpool’s key waterfront street as a positive place for people [rather than just cars], the City are now developing proposals to expand this high quality vision along the whole City Centre waterfront. This includes reduced vehicle lanes, designated cycle routes, removal of parking bays, street tree planting and the creation of a new public square. The work has sparked further development in the building itself, with a new museum opening on the [previously vacant] ground floor and additional plans being developed for a new restaurant.
With ‘The Voyage’ we wanted to show how design can help re-connect a place and its people with its past and provide an inclusive and contemporary vision for our collective future. Although the initial brief was vague we saw a rare opportunity to celebrate a unique history and create a landscape befitting the sites importance. The challenge was to create a design that was sympathetic to both the existing buildings [including their scale, form and rhythm], the history of the Cunard Line, but also utilise details and materials that reference its contemporary context.
‘The Voyage’ clearly and imaginatively demonstrates how design can help re-connect a place and its people with its past and provide an inclusive and contemporary vision for our collective future.
Lead designers: BCA Landscape
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: Smiling Wolf [graphic design], Amey [engineers]
Project Location: The Strand, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Design year: 2015-17
Year Built: 2017