Birkenhead: The New Garden Town

Gethin Hughes, Rhiannon Morgan, Omar Shariff

The New Town of Birkenhead aims to inject life back into the existing town, whilst accommodating the predicted future population growth of Liverpool City Region. Taking advantage of the town’s close proximity to the city of Liverpool, it provides a good opportunity for expansion. This ‘new town’ would aim to improve the quality of life of the current residents, re-imagining Birkenhead as a pleasurable and vibrant place to live, with the significant new asset of an animated waterfront and an enhanced infrastructure of green parks.
The project explores Garden City principles and would reintroduce people into the town, aiming to increase Birkenhead’s population from 83,000 to 200,000 people. It would be a healthy place to live, with the wellbeing of its inhabitants, at the core of the project aspirations. Better utilisation of the existing public transport links to Liverpool, along with the introduction of pedestrian, vehicular and cycle routes throughout the town would mean that all necessary amenities will be within a 10 minute walking distance from the town centre. A new urban park to the south would welcome visitors from Birkenhead Central Station and a new urban square to the north would link to Hamilton Square station, the ferry terminal and the bus station.

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Extending the Grid

Samah Anjum, Zhor Boukerrou, Jack Cooper

The concept for the project is to extend the existing grid layout around Hamilton Square towards the waterfront. The idea is to create a dense urban environment in line with successful inner city areas such as Manchester’s Northern Quarter or Liverpool’s Bold Street. The project highlights the creation of usable green spaces as nodes of a local food production network and attractions for visitors (Winter garden, Hamilton Square, Town Hall indoor market). In order to increase the potential of this strategy, car parks are transformed into market gardens.

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Veddel – Social Equity

Rebecca Blakley, Benjamin Naylor, Shu Qin Ng

The project responds to Hamburg’s housing policy (1/3 free market, 1/3 social, 1/3 buy to let) by proposing a mix of residential towers and back to back houses. It provides links to the public transport network, connecting the site with the proposed Olympic Village and HafenCity. The public spaces (including green spaces, play parks, skate parks, and a mini outdoor stage) and the community/commercial/cultural spaces are carefully located at the ground floor of the residential blocks to allow maximum interaction between buildings and streets.

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Pockets of Potential

ade Akinsanya, Alexandra Douka, Feridson Han Wei Hong

The project responds to Birkenhead as a context that allows an inclusive environment, breaking the boundaries of the industrial zoning of the area and encouraging interaction, rest and play. Identifying an “urban park of potentials”, it proposes three different sectors: education, leisure and retail. An aim is to boost the already existing maritime college by providing facilities for students and visitors (bookshops, workshop, and a viewing tower). The design responds to the social makeup of the town suggesting a variety of relevant activities (a performance stage, coffee houses, restaurants, retail shops, markets, allotments, a green house, and sport facilities). The space between the ferry terminal and the Priory became the main area of the project’s focus, taking into consideration the Peel Group’s regeneration plans for Wirral Waters.

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Re-establishing the Lost Connections

Kari Bradbury, Robert Simcox, Syeda Zaman

The project seeks to achieve a significant improvement in the physical, economic and social context of Birkenhead, whilst seeking to improve conditions for the whole Wirral population by creating connections between towns. The aim is to establish a clear articulation of public space, connecting different quarters, neighborhoods and communities to each other across the town. A network of existing and new cycle routes reinstates the connection between main parks and major settlements of the Wirral, establishing a stronger network of green spaces and parks. Focusing on Birkenhead, the green axis is formed from the existing Laird grid system, and will provide a green express cycle way from the motorway up to Birkenhead. The ladder running South West to North East is anchored into position by identifying the most dominant landmark of Birkenhead, the Queensway Tunnel ventilation shaft, whereas the ladder running from North West to South East is anchored by the docks. The axis is identified by its links with existing places of interest (Hamilton Square, Town Hall, Magistrates Court building, Birkenhead community college, the Transport Museum and the ventilation shaft), and thereby enhancing the legibility and accessibility of the town’s assets.

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Reconnecting the City

Carl Elliott Martin Williams Constantina Voroklinioti

The project is about the potential of Birkenhead to achieve a high quality living environment, encouraging people to stay in the town and attracting visitors from Liverpool. Aiming to enhance the local economy, provide job opportunities and suggest leisure activities, the project proposes a retail area inspired by the Liverpool One development. It aims to unite Birkenhead and Liverpool by improving connectivity, achieved by changing the Queensway Tunnel into an eco-friendly transportation link between the two places, which will allow access only to smart buses, electric cars and bicycles. The building programme of the area is primarily to expand the existing retail infrastructure with shops, restaurants and cafes, including green spaces, offices and two car parks which will release open land in order to provide a greatly improved public realm.

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Residential Alternative Birkenhead

Panagiotis Georgiades, Liam Marsden, Oliver Jones

The project develops a residential alternative to Liverpool that occupies the Birkenhead waterfront, transforming an under-used area into an energetic location. The arrangement establishes visual connections with the historic townscape of Birkenhead as well as Liverpool’s waterfront. It aims to promote a walkable city by creating a green park behind the waterfront and achieving strong connections with the public transport network. The park becomes the spine of the project, whilst the residential developments contribute to a higher density of the urban fabric. Between the two residential zones, the commercial/cultural hub provides the office spaces and cafes/restaurants with a link to the historic ferry terminal that itself becomes a focal point of the design.

7 Arts

Kathlyn Atienza Mai Vi Giang Michalis Malekkidis

The premise of the project is the establishment of a significant cultural destination to draw social and economic activity back to Birkenhead’s waterfront. The project explores the potential of Birkenhead to promote a Seven Arts Campus in order to draw together the cultural and creative areas and communities of North West England and create a fruitful environment for young artistic entrepreneurs and start-up companies. The campus will collaborate with Wirral Waters and local universities aiming to make Birkenhead a significant ‘Cultural and Creative Hub’ of the North West.

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the Volk Strasse

Eleri Plews Samantha Boner Ryan Blair

Based on Hamburg’s ambition to become “car-free”, the project proposes a pedestrian route beginning at Saint Erich’s Church and ending at the summer garden allotments of Billehuder Insel. Based on the theories of Kevin Lynch for identifying sequences of events and activities, the route is composed of a series of nodes allowing the establishment of visual connections with landmarks around the site. The sequences of this promenade include the Rothenburgsort Switch Station, mixed use recreational buildings (retail and leisure) and a residential complex.

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Water Providing Ground

Jenny Diez-Jones Adam Dwyer Harry Foster

Each year the entire residential district of the Veddel study area floods, causing detrimental impacts on the residents there. The majority of the existing ground floor spaces are derelict and unused, providing a daily reminder of the past flood exposure. Since the tragic 1962 flood, defensive mechanisms were implemented to avoid flood damage, involving raising the level of the dykes and creating overflow zones in which the Elbe River has more diversion space in times of flooding.
Considering the inefficiency of this model, the project introduces a strategy to minimise the volumes of directed water that returns into the canal infrastructures and instead lets rainwater seep through on the site, through the use of marshland. The strategy for flooding allows for the contingency of water to breach the area, but is managed with a degree of resilience; as opposed to prevention.
The design strategy aims to reduce the impact that flooding has on the area. It is also intended to address the social division and residential deprivation in Veddel. The ambition is to connect toether the 60 different communities that reside in the area. The project is comprised of; the land zone with the theatre garden, the knowledge quarter, the language and culture centre, social hub and the market of 60 cultures; the amphibious zone with social housing and the marsh & reed garden; and finally the water zone with the shipping channel, the floating village and the protective levee to control water flow.

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