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Make Space
18th September 2018

Amber Whetter, from our Reading studio, discusses her project 'Make Space', that has been shortlisted for the Architect’s Journal Student Prize 2018

Liverpool is a city that was built on trade, a city whose waterways were its lifeblood.

Its economy is very different today but the former rivers, docks and canals that helped it become the most important port in the British Empire are being reinvented and renewed as part of a 21st century renaissance.

The site of this project is situated within the Liverpool north docks, adjacent to the Stanley dock branch of the Liverpool and Leeds canal and the site’s pivotal location and its rich industrial history was a major inspiration for the design of the ‘Make Space’ concept.

The ‘Make Space’ concept itself utilises incremental design to provide a space which encourages creative collaborations among a series of makers and brings craft to the rest of the community.

The ability of the building to shift, change and grow with the makers provides the ideal setting for the expansion of crafts and the individuals working within it. By locating it next to the canal, it allows for a new age of developing technologies and creations to be shared with the public while linking the historical culture of the site to the city of today.

There are three distinct components of the ‘Make Space’; the hypostyle, base and tower. Each serves an individual purpose, whilst working together to make the building function as a whole.

The hypostyle is set across three levels providing a new direct access from the canal towpath to the building entrance on Lightbody Street. Timber transitory pods run on tracks, emulating the viaduct that cuts across the east of the site, to bring café spaces, small galleries spaces and interactive workshops to the community. The covered space provided by the hypostyle creates a multifunctional space that can be used all year round and maintains the link between the creators and the community.

The base houses the various workshops for different activities. These include a ‘fablab’ workshop with all the computer-based technologies including 3D printers and laser cutters and a materials workshop with saws, drills, large workbenches and tools. There are also areas for storage of materials and built products and flexible studio spaces provided for individual crafts people to work. Office spaces allow for online based crafts and exhibition spaces display wares or can be used for larger projects. Finally, but most importantly, community spaces such as cafés, breakout areas and a garden roof, promote interaction between different makers which in turn could lead to collaborations within the design community.

The tower which emerges from the base provides living spaces for the crafts people who work within the ‘Make Space’. It utilise incremental design, starting as a skeleton, into which the bespoke timber living pods, produced in the workshops within the base, can be inserted when required. A sense of community is formed by living and working together, in turn encouraging the partnerships within the creative industry, inspired by the community spirit established by the ‘Make Space’.


A sense of community is formed by living and working together, in turn encouraging the partnerships within the creative industry, inspired by the community spirit established by the ‘Make Space’.

A sense of community is formed by living and working together, in turn encouraging the partnerships within the creative industry, inspired by the community spirit established by the ‘Make Space’.

The hypostyle and tower skeleton are constructed from concrete as they are a permanent feature of the scheme. They are designed to last and remain in the location for many lifetimes and generations to come. The cross arch form mirrors the arch of the viaduct and takes influence form the arched forms of the neighbouring Jesse Hartley buildings, tying the building into the site. The regular structure of the arches allows for future developments to build upon it with ease.

The base is made from steel as it has a more permanent occupation, but the steel structure still allows for small changes throughout the life of the building. The expressed bracing of the building has both practical and visual qualities. It provides cross bracing for the building and a uniform façade. The tower infills and transitory pods are made from timber and designed to have a shorter life as they can be easily changed and adapted to different uses and needs of those occupying the building.

The ‘Make Space’ building is designed to link into its environment and historical context on many levels, including its design form and functionality. Its purpose is to bring a new use to a neglected and under-utilised area in a contemporary and flexible way.