Wirral Metropolitan College

“One of the most successful aspects of the building is the way it works within an excellent landscape scheme. The setting of the dockside has been fully exploited, yet this is not a normal UK design response. The absence of barriers to water was noticeable and combined with the lack of perimeter fencing the landscape is allowed to act as an outside space that people want to be in – not an enclosed car park. It was this final aspect that persuaded the judges that this could indeed be worthy of an award – the building and its landscape can act as a blueprint for an excellent minimum standard for future phases.”

RIBA Judge

Project: Wirral Metropolitan College

Year of Completion: 2016

Budget: Undisclosed

Client: Peel Holdings

Project Team: BCA Landscape, Parkinson Inc, Glenn Howells Architects, Turleys, DBK, Morgan Sindall, Jacobs Engineering, Hoare Lee

Awards: RIBA National Award 2016

The Built Environment, Skills and Enterprise Centre at Wirral Metropolitan College, Birkenhead delivers a leading facility for the acquisition of technical skills, providing a local skill-base to deliver elements of the wider Wirral Waters masterplan over the next 30 years. Bold colours and forms, robust materials, close attention to details and new blocks of trees transform a derelict dock edge into an iconic and memorable landscape in scale with the post-industrial waterside neighbourhood.

Andy Thomson, Director at BCA Landscape said, “it is always important for us to help create unique places for people to use and enjoy that go beyond the functionality of access and parking. Here students, visitors and staff at the new campus are able to enjoy their break times outdoors, reclining on the urban loungers amongst the maritime grasses. Beautiful views over the docks are framed by the iconic red steel picture frames, inspired by the nearby Dock structures.”

The scheme is the first building in the £4.5 billion masterplan and acts as a benchmark for the wider Wirral Waters development. It has a strong, sculptural form reflecting its dockland heritage. A successful creative collaboration between Peel, the college, the design team and the contractor has managed to achieve a successful building and landscape that is fit for purpose but also has, in the process helped to shape both the careers of the students who use the building and help to change the future of this once prospering dock.