3XN Architects have recently completed the Museum of Liverpool.
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.
Kim Herforth Nielsen, Principal and Creative Director, 3XN Architects
3XN’s Museum of Liverpool: More than a Building, More than a Museum
The new Museum of Liverpool, opening on July 19th will not only tell the story of its importance as one of the World’s great ports or about its cultural influence, such as with the Beatles phenomenon. It will also serve as a meeting point for History, the People of Liverpool and visitors from around the globe. Therefore, according to the Architect, Kim Herforth Nielsen, the structure functions as much more than just a Building or a Museum.
The Result of a Rigorous Process
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,’ Principal Architect and Creative Director at 3XN Kim Herforth Nielsen was fully aware of the magnitude of the challenge, when it came to designing the new Museum of Liverpool.
This is one of the largest and most prestigious projects in 3XN’s 25 year history. 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 a dynamic low-rise structure which enters into a respectful dialogue with the harbour promenade’s taller historical buildings. This interaction facilitates 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.
A striking new addition to Liverpool
Dr David Fleming OBE, Director of National Museums Liverpool, is thrilled with 3XN’s design and looks forward to welcoming visitors to the museum:
To design the building we appointed Danish architects 3XN, who responded to our requirement (…) The resulting structure is a striking addition to the Liverpool cityscape. I can’t wait to open the doors to visitors to show off our new museum and encourage others to discover more about this extraordinary city.
+ Project credits / data
Location: Mann Island, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Client: National Museums Liverpool
Size: 13.000 m2
Engineer: Buro Happold
Award: 1st prize in Invited competition 2004
Size: 12.500 m2
Engineer: Buro Happold
Landscape Architect: Schønherr
Awards: Miami Bienal 2006 Silver Medal
Program: Culture | Museum
Photographers: Philip Handforth, Richard White & Pete Carr