This is a place. Its genius is being a place within a place, and achieving just what BDP’s masterplanners envisaged at the outset.
The place that once typified many post-war piecemeal development areas – a flat bit of grass at the back of a bus station – somehow managed to create even more separation between the Albert Dock and the city centre. With the imperative to regenerate the Paradise Street area it could have been sacrificed to being “that bit at the back”, left over after planning, or even worse a service yard for a mall.
But the entire Liverpool One regeneration project team knew that if such a sacrifice was made, a special opportunity would have been missed. Because now the Park at Liverpool One is a wonderful uniting feature. It achieves the impossible by linking the city centre and the waterfront, and acting as a three-dimensional knuckle in the masterplan that skilfully forms the context and foreground for the ellipse of bordering buildings. It rises up from the Strand, gently yet emphatically, through grassy knolls, embankments, steps and winding paths. Its focus is a plateau at the focus of a new entertainment heart for the city – by day a vantage point, by night a lively beautifully lit public space.
At the city side of the park is the big surprise, as it culminates at an array of bridges over a two level shopping street and leading to an array of cafes, cinemas, and the city centre beyond. And the whole sits atop umpteen levels of car parking, hidden from view, but brilliantly located.
I recall our arguments with English Heritage who thought a green space inappropriate. We and the City believed in the park so much I sent a young planner, in her first week at BDP, to survey all the green spaces of Liverpool to show how deprived the city centre was. We won that day, and the Park at Liverpool One is now a wonderful place for people.