If you’re thinking about a development project in the Liverpool area, you might need an architect – if so, this article is here to help.
Liverpool has many talented architectural firms which can bring expertise and vision to all types of schemes. While finding the right one might seem like a challenge, we’ll help you narrow down the options to identify the best architect in Liverpool for you.
It’s important to speak to several firms with experience in developments like yours before engaging an architect.
It’s also helpful to inspect examples of previous work and speak to an architect’s former clients, if possible, to get their opinions as well as check their reviews.
In this article, we look at Liverpool’s history, architecture, and current development plans. Then, to inspire you, we also feature the work of five great Liverpool architects’ firms.
History and architecture
Liverpool is, of course, a place with a rich maritime history. It developed into a major city due to the expansion of its port from the 1700s to the early 20th century. It became the main port for trans-Atlantic trade in the 19th and early 20th centuries and its distinctive waterfront and fine architecture developed in this era.
Houses were built in residential areas surrounding the docks and warehouses. The Albert Dock was opened in 1846 and forms the largest collection of grade I listed buildings in the UK. Other landmark buildings include The Three Graces – the Royal Liver Building (adorned by two Liver Birds, the city’s emblem), the Cunard Building, and the Port of Liverpool, all standing on the Pier Head.
Other famous landmarks include St George’s Hall which contains concert halls, and 30 James Street, home to the White Star Line cruise headquarters, which operated from Pier Head along with the Cunard company, sending ships all over the world.
With the decline of the port in the late 20th century, the waterfront was redeveloped into a leisure area with commercial space and residential accommodation. The city suffered from the loss of jobs on the waterfront and the closure of manufacturing plants, and by the mid-1980s unemployment was a major problem. The population fell as people migrated to find jobs.
Today, Liverpool is a dynamic city having undergone years of investment, with jobs created in a range of industries from business to professional services. It has a thriving airport and the development of The Mersey Ports which handle around 40 million tonnes of cargo annually, has created many jobs.
The Port of Liverpool is the main deep sea port for container services between Great Britain and North America. Liverpool is a Northern Powerhouse city and the main transport hub and international gateway for trade and people into the northwest. It was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status in 2004, and the city centre, waterfront, and Royal Albert Dock reflect the city’s rich history.
However, there is still economic and social deprivation, and the vibrant housing markets across the suburbs and city centre contrast with neighbourhoods with high levels of vacant properties and low demand. The city contains high numbers of flats and 2- and 3-bedroom houses; the low proportion of detached houses means that high earners are not catered for. The Local Plan notes that diversifying the housing mix could help with regeneration and boost the economy.
The Development Plan
Liverpool’s Local Plan 2013-2033 aims to cater for a growing population and wants to see sustainable growth including city centre development. 145 hectares of land are allocated for business and jobs, while the Plan prioritises protecting open space and the city’s heritage historic, and natural environment.
The Plan contains policies for energy-efficient buildings, sustainable travel across the city, improved green infrastructure, flood risk management, and pollution measures. It also has a focus on redeveloping brownfield sites for regeneration and job creation in the key employment areas.
The Local Plan has a target of building almost 35,000 new homes and it wants to see better quality homes that meet residents’ needs throughout their life, being wheelchair accessible, along with more affordable homes. Controls are being placed on the number of houses that can be converted into a House In Multiple Occupation (HMO) because the proliferation of this type of housing is felt to have impacted negatively on neighbourhoods. New HMOs must provide better space standards and be fully accessible.
The aim is to see a high-quality choice of homes and diverse housing to support vibrant communities. There is a focus on city centre areas including the Baltic Triangle, Ten Streets, the Commercial District, the Cavern Quarter, and the Upper Central area. Key views are to be protected with restraints on tall buildings.
There’s a drive to champion new architecture and buildings should reflect local character where appropriate in residential neighbourhoods. Another priority is to widen the city’s housing offer to cater for 20–34-year-olds who want family housing, and larger houses are to be encouraged on brownfield sites in the city.
Liverpool has five higher education institutions, and the aim is to place appropriate purpose-built student accommodation in city centre areas rather than established residential communities. The Plan also aims to promote self-build housing and starter homes.
Reasons to hire a Liverpool architect
Not all development projects need the services of an architect, but their design thinking can be valuable and, in many cases, result in savings. You can hire an architect to help with part of a scheme, such as creating drawings needed to obtain planning permission, or they can take on total project management responsibility.
When deciding on an architect’s firm, it’s important to choose one with experience in projects like yours as they will be aware of the necessary planning consents required and will also be used to working with suitable builders.
They will also be able to advise you on whether your scheme will need an ecology survey or a bat survey, and ensure that it can deliver the right level of biodiversity net gain (BNG) if required by the local authority. Architects are required to register with the Architects’ Registration Board, and most are members of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
Five outstanding projects carried out by architects in Liverpool
Here are some amazing designs we’ve chosen which will hopefully lend some inspiration to your project.
This creative design studio specialises in high-end residential projects and prides itself on offering a personal service to its clients. A five-star rated practice, Group:D Architects works in a contemporary style and believes in simple architecture, the careful use of texture and colour, and minimalist detailing. This project, The White House, is a new-build house involving large floor-to-ceiling voids letting in light and long vistas allowing a seamless flow through the building. Tall, glazed features allow views of the surrounding countryside. The building includes a basement floor with a gym, spa, and sunken garden, four bedrooms on the first floor, and a further two bedrooms on the second floor.
Unit3 design studio
Unit3 design studio has a five-star rating and delivers unique contemporary and sustainable designs for clients. Established in 2013, and based in the Baltic Triangle, Unit3 has delivered unique projects across the UK and internationally. This extension to a 1960s house in Tarvin, Cheshire, involved creating a large kitchen-dining space and an extra bedroom. The design involved a dramatic picture frame curtain wall with ground-level sliding doors.
This five-star-rated firm works on residential projects across Liverpool and beyond and will take you through the entire process of extending or altering your home, from initial drawings to master planning and project management.
They specialise in loft conversions, garage conversions, and extensions. These pictures show a bathroom remodel incorporating a large walk-in shower created in a small bathroom. The internal layout of this Victorian terraced house was reconfigured by moving a stud wall to create space and taking an area of the landing to accommodate the shower. House Architects also advised on the interior design and liaised with the builder throughout the project.
Experts at managing restrictive budgets, complex sites, and difficult spaces, ArchiPhonic offers a range of architectural services, including obtaining planning permission, building regulations approval, construction drawings, master planning, project management, and interior design.
Here, the brief was to design a new luxury detached house in Crosby. The client wanted the house to be in keeping with the existing nearby houses while introducing some contemporary design thinking. ArchiPhonic created a focal point by framing the entrance with a glazed contemporary gable roof, and an extended balcony to the rear along with contemporary glazing to the bedrooms.
The design included a bar area and the loft was designed as a bespoke gym and fitness space. Materials used included render, stone cladding, and composite cladding.
Based in Southport, Merseyside, RAL Architects was established in 2001 and works on small and large-scale housing, retail and leisure projects. Offering a full range of architectural services from initial drawings to master planning and project management, RAL Architects works closely with clients with a focus on a scheme’s usability and value for money. They offer a full architectural service including design thinking, master planning, satisfying building control requirements, and interior design guidance.
Over to you
To help you decide on a firm of architects in Liverpool, our advice is to contact three practices and arrange a meeting, which is usually free of charge. Prepare key questions beforehand – our article 10 things to ask your architect may help here – and explain your scheme in full during the meeting. You can then compare each firm’s answers which should help you to decide on the best one for you.