Wilkinson Eyre's new venue and convention centre for Liverpool
The new Arena and Convention Centre on Liverpool’s Kings Waterfront combines a multipurpose 10,000 seat arena, a conference centre with 1,350 seat auditorium, and a 7,600m² exhibition facility. The building was the centrepiece for Liverpool’s celebrations as Capital of Culture in 2008.
The brief called for architecture of the highest quality, with aspirations for the design to define the city’s regenerated waterfront with a contemporary structure - all within the context of the adjacent Maritime Mercantile City World Heritage Site. The architecture is therefore a close response to the setting, with a low sculptural form which, when viewed from the river, resembles a pair of graceful outstretched arms spanning between Liverpool’s famous cathedrals. The building’s enclosing skin, with its bands of varying translucency, relates to the fast-moving River Mersey with its strong tides, blustery winds and powerful reflected light.
Although the arena and convention centre were originally envisaged as two separate structures, Wilkinson Eyre’s design combines the two, linking them with a glazed ‘galleria’ which strengthens the overall site masterplan and encourages connectivity with the waterfront. An enhanced public realm further reinforces links and is enlivened with cultural and artistic activity. This is particularly apparent in the evening, when visitors are drawn to events in this previously deserted area of the inner city.
The flexible arena design provides a versatile venue, with configurations to suit a huge variety of sporting and entertainment events. The adjacent convention centre includes an innovative auditorium with revolving ‘drums’ of seating which can create smaller theatre style conference rooms.
The building has impressive environmental credentials and is currently the ‘greenest’ arena and convention centre in Europe, with a BREEAM rating of Very Good.