Client: Liverpool City Council
Architect: BCA Landscape, Liverpool
Contractor: Amey, Kings Construction

‘The Voyage’ began in 2015 with a very simple brief, to visually improve the very poor-quality environment in front of the Grade II* listed Cunard Building, one of the world famous ‘Three Graces’, set within Liverpool’s UNESCO world heritage waterfront.

The site had been severely neglected; with damaged and poor quality paving, highway clutter, inappropriate scaled and positioned trees – detracting from the grandeur of the building and its surroundings. The space served no purpose and more importantly it had become lost in time; the connection between Liverpool’s maritime legacy and its people had been severed, becoming just another office building sitting in a non-descript landscape.

The challenge we set ourselves was to create a design that was sympathetic to both the existing buildings [including their scale, form and rhythm], the history of the Three Graces and at the same time utilise details and materials that reference their contemporary context.

Inspired by nearby herringbone clay pavers from the 1930’s, ship decks and ballroom floors from some of Cunard’s great ships, the recycled high-quality natural aggregate concrete surfacing has been carefully selected and designed to create a unique effect that changes depending on specific light conditions through-out the day and night. The team have also worked closely with the City’s maintenance department to ensure long–term robustness and ease of management.

Saturday 2nd July 2016 marked the Centenary celebrations of the famous Cunard building in Liverpool – one of the city’s worldfamous Three Graces. To bring the Cunard company’s legacy to life, the Hardscape team was commissioned by BCA Landscape in collaboration with design agency Smiling Wolf to craft an epic 50-metre granite stone seat. 

The inscription on the bench recounts some of the defining moments in the building’s epic story dating back to a period when Liverpool was considered as the gateway to the world: 

In 1912 the crew of the Carpathia became heroes responding to the ‘come quick distress’ call of the stricken Titanic. She powered to the rescue through the ice sheets of the North Atlantic, saving 705 people from the sinking vessel. 

The seat is inset with ‘The Voyage’ – a specially designed piece of artwork inspired by the fascinating history of Cunard and captures momentous moments from 1839 to the present day. Gracing the full length of the building, the stunning art installation features unique bronze illustrations and typography.

Materials used 

Hardscape supplied European Montemuro fine grain flamed granite for the benches with artscape bronze inlays and lettering. Kellen Breccia and Liscio Tagenta E 50mm x 200mm/400mm x 80mm/100mm (Breccia 200mm with 3mm chamfer) paving; Lavaro Wit 120mm x 1000mm x 250mm flush edgings and Breccia Tagenta E 400mm/200mm x 400mm/200mm x 566mm/285mm x 80mm Triangles. 

In 2018 The Voyage project won the Spatial Design – Design for Public Spaces Award at the D&AD Awards. 

The Centenary celebrations started with the Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth sailing up the Mersey on Saturday, July 2nd, followed by two ‘Last Night at the Proms’-style concerts and was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Roz Gladden alongside the Captain of Queen Elizabeth and Inger Klein Olsen (the first ever female captain of a Cunard ship). 

The work was commissioned by Amey for Liverpool City Council. 

We’re immensely proud to be able to play a small part in the Cunard Building’s history and hope that the Voyage installation will be enjoyed by Liverpudlians and visitors for years to come.

Mathew Haslam, Hardscape MD