GALLERY | NML unveils Liverpool Canning Dock proposals
The oldest visible part of the city’s dock system will be transformed to showcase the city’s rich maritime history under plans revealed to the public this week by National Museums Liverpool.
Designed by architect Asif Khan and artist Theaster Gates, preliminary proposals for the city’s Canning Dock include a pedestrian footbridge and an experiential installation on the South Dry Dock.
The dry docks were constructed in the 1760s, and designed for the cleaning and repair of ships. Historic stone coursing, barrel runs, mitre gates, and iron fittings remain on the site.
Created with community partners 20 Stories High, Squash, and Writing on the Wall, the proposals seek to better reveal the significance of the docks through sensitive intervention.
Liz Stewart, Canning Dock lead for National Museums Liverpool, said: “Working with local community arts organisations, we have a unique chance to really enhance people’s experience of this space.
“As well as creating an overall cohesive visitor experience, we’re determined to truly represent the profound historic significance of the site.”
The Royal Albert Dock will be linked with Canning Quayside through the introduction of a pedestrian bridge. This path will provide better connections to the surrounding International Slavery Museum, Maritime Museum, and the Museum of Liverpool.
An area dedicated to contemplation and education will be featured on the reimagined South Dry Dock. The stone and glass structure will sit at the base of the sunken dock and will carry the same dimensions as a typical slave ship, reminiscent of the many based there 250 years ago.
The contemplation space is meant to “play host to stories of the past, life of the present, and dreams of the future, with no chance of being washed away”, according to the consultation.
Architect Khan said: “It is an idea about how complex history can be told, the spaces in which we tell it, and the power it has to bring us together.”
Artist Gates added: “The opportunity to work on the Canning Docks Project has allowed me to connect with the complexity of Liverpool and its history and to engage that history, knowing that there’s healing for the future.
“The community of creative organisations and individuals who have worked to make this project possible are the lifeblood of Liverpool.”
Notably absent from the Canning Dock consultation are Sir David Adjaye and Nigerian architect Mariam Kamara, who were originally part of the project team. Both have departed from the scheme after having worked on its early stages.
“Once the direction of the project was established, the collective agreed that Khan and Gates would take the project forward,” an NML spokesperson told Place North West.
They emphasised that Sir David Adjaye’s company Adjaye Associates was still involved in the broader Waterfront Transformation Project, a scheme that includes the Canning Dock revamp, the International Slavery Museum expansion, and the redevelopment of the Maritime Museum.
The Canning Dock project will be funded with a contribution from the government’s £4.8bn Levelling Up Fund, supported by a £120,000 grant from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Race Equality Programme.
The wider design team for the project includes Plan A Consultants, Prior + Partners, The Place Bureau, Hara Design Institute, AKTII, Arup, Donald Insall Associates, and Bureau Veritas.
National Museums Liverpool is inviting the public to view the full proposals and share feedback, in person at the Museum of Liverpool or online. The consultation will run until 23 April.
A full planning application will be submitted to Liverpool City Council this summer.
Click any image to launch gallery.
Neil Tague contributed to this report.