Liverpool’s new Mayor and the City Region’s Metro Mayor will officially open one of the world’s healthiest buildings today (Friday, 21 May).
The landmark building, The Spine, based in Paddington Village, has been designed according to the scientific and medical research principles established in the international WELL Standard to achieve WELL Platinum. It is on track to be one of the healthiest workspaces for mental health and physical wellbeing in the UK.
Costing £35m to construct, it is the first Grade-A office building in the Liverpool City Region for more than a decade. It will also be the highest in the city, sitting proudly at the eastern gateway to the Knowledge Quarter Liverpool (KQ Liverpool) Innovation District.
The 200,000 square foot, 14-storey building, designed by architecture and building consultancy practice AHR and built by City Council appointed contractors and construction partners Morgan Sindall Construction, stands more than 500ft above sea level, commanding spectacular views across the city and as far as Snowdonia, the Lake District and the Pennines.
In what will be their first joint public event since being elected, Mayor Joanne Anderson and Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram will take a tour of the building, which will include meeting some of the 90 young apprentices who have helped to construct The Spine over the past four years.
The Mayors will be greeted by Dr Andrew Goddard, the President of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP). The RCP represents over 40,000 doctors throughout the world, and RCP at The Spine will be the organisation’s northern home and its first significant presence outside of London, providing events, activities and services closer to its northern members. The historic medical institution, whose roots go back to the reign of Henry VIII, has spent £13m fitting out its offices across seven floors to accommodate exams, education facilities, conferences and meetings at a world-class standard.
The Spine’s unique layout and design also uses biophilic design principles, with strong connections to nature established throughout the building. The distinctive façade takes inspiration from the human skin, with the striking Voronoi pattern including 23 million individual polygons applied in a frit pattern to 1,400 glass panels.
The Spine’s eco-credentials are also boosted by three double-height spaces on the ground, 10th and 12th floors, with planters containing high-oxygen-producing plants to improve the internal environment, a large number of cycle spaces and electric car charging points installed at the nearby car park.
A dedicated exhibition space on the first floor will connect via a staircase to a ground floor café and foyer, while the higher floors, which are circa 11,550 square feet, will enjoy some of the best views of the city thanks to floor-to-ceiling glazing throughout.
The building, which has generated a social value to the local economy of £28.9m, will be heated by a low-carbon heating exchange based within the ground floor of brand new 14-storey car park, which is due to open in July this year.
As well as The RCP, which has taken seven floors within The Spine, Clatterbridge Cancer Centre has taken a floor, with the City Council in negotiations to complete the occupancy of the building.
When complete, Paddington Village, which received £12m from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority towards a £20m infrastructure programme, will feature several other buildings, some of which are already occupied. The University of Liverpool’s International College and The Rutherford Cancer Centre NW, opened in 2020 and a new hotel by Novotel will follow in April 2022.
Plans for further developments on Paddington are also being progressed, with designs for HEMISPHERE, a new health, life sciences and tech focused building, soon to be revealed by Liverpool Science Park owners, Sciontec Developments Limited.
At 30 acres, Paddington Village, which was once the site of a now relocated secondary school, is being developed by Liverpool City Council in three phases: Paddington Central, Paddington South and Paddington North. The £1 billion KQ Liverpool expansion site lies east of the city centre which, when complete, will be a key part of Liverpool’s world-leading innovation district – incorporating new science, technology, education and health space.
The Spine delivery team:
• Morgan Sindall Construction – Principal Contractor
• AHR: Architect (The Spine) – and Interior Designer (RCP Fit Out)
• ARUP – Multi-discipline Engineers
• CBRE – Lead consultant for RCP
• Overbury – fit out contractor for RCP
• CBRE and Knight Frank – Letting Agents
• KQ Liverpool – Strategic support and Marketing
Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson, said: “The Spine is simply stunning and very much reflects the Liverpool we all want to see develop in the 21st century. Its unique design and distinctive look also symbolises the ambitions we have for Paddington Village – to create an innovation district to rival any in the UK and Europe.
“I’m delighted the RCP will be calling this their northern home. They are joining a fantastic roster of world class institutions and am sure will help attract others to join them. Of course, it’s not just about beautiful buildings. Paddington Village is stimulating new investment, creating apprenticeships and high quality job opportunities that will strengthen Liverpool’s economy for decades to come.”
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region, said: “It’s brilliant to see the investment we’ve made in the Knowledge Quarter really starting to take shape. The Spine is a building that really encapsulates a lot of my vision for the region: harnessing the expertise of our world-class universities, attracting nationwide jobs and housing it all in one of the cleanest, greenest buildings in Europe. As Mayor, it’s exactly the sort of thing I am working to deliver on a region-wide level.
“We’re already seeing the difference those investments are having. From the jobs we’re attracting with the Royal College of Physicians, to the training and apprenticeship opportunities we’re creating for local young people like those we’ve met today, we’re making sure that everybody in our region is able to benefit. This is what devolution is all about: us taking more decisions for ourselves and shaping the future of our region in a way that benefits all of our communities.”
RCP president Dr Andrew Goddard said: “RCP at The Spine will deliver what our members tells us they want the most – for the RCP to be educating, improving and influencing – with our state-of-the-art assessment centre and educational facilities. It will allow us to have a base for our health improvement work as we continue to set high standards in educating physicians to provide the best care for patients in the UK and across the world. Our major investment in RCP at The Spine shows that we want to get closer to our members in the north and demonstrates that we’re all about health and healthcare right across the UK today.’
Richard Potts, Morgan Sindall Construction’s area director for Liverpool, said: “The Spine’s breath-taking design does justice to what it represents for the future of our city. It symbolises the Council’s inspirational vision of ensuring that Liverpool can become an international leader in science and technology, creating the high skilled jobs that will drive both the local and national economies forward.
“The economic and social benefits of The Spine have already proven significant. As part of our work on this monumental project, we’re proud to have provided a sizeable skills boost for local people through creating jobs, apprenticeship and training programmes and hosting a range of events at our specially built Knowledge Quad within the Paddington Village site.
“It has been an absolute privilege for Morgan Sindall Construction to help deliver this sensational building and to be part of the wider Paddington Village development. I’d like to offer my congratulations to the Council, the whole project team and to warmly welcome RCP to Liverpool.”
Robert Hopkins, regional director at architecture and building consultancy practice, AHR, said: “It’s fantastic to see first-hand just how inspiring this biophilic workplace is. From the distinctive Voronoi panels to the striking geometric staircase; the trabecular columns to the abundant internal space – the innovation throughout has reflected the ambitious and pioneering nature of this new northern home for the RCP. We’re delighted with the results and look forward to seeing the impact the positive and healthy workspace has on its occupants.”