15/2/2013 Vision for a new student scheme in Liverpool

Downing has submitted plans for a 241-bed student development at the site of the former Scandinavian Hotel in Liverpool’s Chinatown.
The scheme has been designed by architects Shedkm and will create a mix of cluster rooms and studios, plus ground floor retail. The site lies at an important city centre location at the junction of Duke Street, Nelson Street and Berry Street within the Duke Street Conservation Area, close to the Anglican Cathedral. Either side of the site, stretches the arc of streets that form the backbone of Liverpool''s Chinatown district; a huge Chinese Arch stands in front of the Nelson Street elevation.
The site consists of the four storey white stuccoed frontage building facing Nelson Street, with a return on Duke Street, and the larger steel-framed brick warehouse building to the rear. Built in two stages, pre and post WW2 and varying in height from four to six storeys. To the south west of the 1859 building and within the site boundary, a pair of dilapidated one and two storey structures complete the existing buildings.
Unlike previous design approaches that required the demolition of the majority of the buildings (retaining the oldest facades and roofscape), this design began with the premise of keeping as much of this existing structure and fabric as possible while making sufficiently robust interventions to allow viable new uses to be successfully incorporated.
A void through the centre of the new buildings will allow sufficient natural light to penetrate. This simple move, arising from the practical consideration of day-lighting to rooms, also gives the building its new ''heart'': a dramatic full height entrance space animated by new circulation, lifts, staircases and bridges.
The new scheme will also open up a lost link to Cummings Street, connecting Chinatown to the East Village complex, the wider Ropewalks area and Liverpool One.
These design proposals recognise the need for full accessibility to all areas of the building and the design for student accommodation within the existing building aims to provide an inclusive development. The existing buildings have a complex circulation system with many staircases accessing multiple levels. One of the primary challenges for successfully reusing the building is to introduce a new circulation system that reconciles these levels and is clear to all users of the building.
Paul Houghton, development director at Downing, said: “As one of the UK’s most experienced developers of student housing, with projects in Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, London and Cambridge, we are looking forward using our knowledge and expertise to bring forward another high quality student scheme, with 241 bedrooms and ground floor retail.”
An outcome of the planning submission is expected in April.