Architects for historic dockland buildings announced

Harrison Stringfellow and Citizens Design Bureau collaborate to redevelop National Museums Liverpool’s suite of historic dockside buildings

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National Museums Liverpool is pleased to announce lead architects, Harrison Stringfellow with Citizens Design Bureau, and Gerrard BSE and engineersHRW, on the circa £1 million redevelopment of their collection of historically significant dockside buildings: Mermaid House, the Cooperage and the Piermaster’s Office. 

The buildings are situated in a prime location, overlooking Mermaid Square, adjacent to the Royal Albert Dock. The Piermaster’s Office was an administration centre, documenting the arrival of ships into the dock, while in the workshop next door, the coopers made and repaired barrels for a range of goods such as tobacco and rum. Such buildings were an integral part of operating Liverpool’s pioneering docklands. 

Mermaid House, added to the dockscape in the 20th century, offers spectacular views across the River Mersey and towards the Pier Head. 

The buildings will be refurbished and developed into a unique food and beverage outlet. Complementing the remarkable geographical surroundings and heritage, they will offer a new relaxing space within one of the city’s most popular destinations, overlooking the River Mersey. 

Janet Dugdale, National Museums Liverpool’s Executive Director of Museums & Participation said:

This is a great opportunity to revitalise a superb corner of the Liverpool waterfront, which has been underused for too long. We’re excited to be working with Harrison Stringfellow and Citizens Design Bureau to refurbish the suite of buildings and create a new destination for everyone to enjoy this fascinating historic environment.

For Harrison Stringfellow, a growing architectural practice, founded by Sarah Harrison and Su Stringfellow, this is the second successful selection within National Museums Liverpool’s Waterfront Transformation Project. Earlier this year the firm were also announced as the preferred bidders for the refurbishment and design of National Museums Liverpool’s Grade II listed building, Hartley Hut, and have been part of the shortlisted teams for both the Canning Dock Project and the major refurbishment of both the International Slavery Museum and Maritime Museum. 

Citizens Design Bureau are architects who have developed a portfolio of complex conservation projects for arts, community and civic buildings. Director, Katy Marks is also from Liverpool and was a project architect on the award-winning Liverpool Everyman theatre. More recently she led the refurbishment and extension of the recently completed Grade II* Listed Manchester Jewish Museum. 

Su Stringfellow, Director, Harrison Stringfellow, said:

We are looking forward to working on this important collection of buildings that are part of Liverpool’s maritime history. Having worked with communities across Liverpool for many years, we are keen to sustain the buildings for future generations to enjoy. 

We share many of the same values and interests as Citizens Design Bureau and so look forward to developing a collaborative working relationship on this project.

Katy Marks, Director, Citizens Design Bureau, said:

Liverpool is my home city, so it is a great privilege to bring our conservation focus to National Museums Liverpool’s beautiful dock buildings. We are keen to retain the unusual industrial character of the historic architecture while bringing this prominent site to life with new uses that will re-engage the local community.

The redevelopment is funded by the Levelling Up Fund and forms part of National Museums Liverpool’s Waterfront Transformation Project. This long-term vision links storytelling, heritage, community and hospitality to create a rich visitor experience on Liverpool’s renowned waterfront.  



Waterfront Transformation Project  

Spanning the area between the Royal Albert Dock and Mann Island, the Waterfront Transformation Project will take in the key landmarks, International Slavery Museum, Maritime Museum and Museum of Liverpool, along with multiple smaller buildings. This includes the Cooperage, Mermaid House and the  Piermaster’s Office. Central to the transformation will be National Museums Liverpool’s long-held ambition to redevelop the Dr Martin Luther King Jr Building, expanding the International Slavery Museum into the space.  

The redevelopment of the International Slavery Museum is made possible with generous support of £9.9million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund with thanks to National Lottery players. Liverpool City Region Combined Authority provided £185,000 pre-development funding for the Waterfront Transformation Project, which forms part of the Race Equality Programme launched by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram in 2021. 

Harrison Stringfellow 

Co-founded by Su Stringfellow and Sarah Harrision in 2010 the practice set about doing architecture differently. Nominated as a RIBA practice role model in 2018 they also won the MacEwen Award and Social Impact Architect of the year in 2021 for their work with Park Palace Ponies and other social enterprises for their progressive approach. Currently they are working on the refurbishment and extension of a community centre for Halewood Town Council, the refurbishment of a Grade 2 listed community church in Liverpool, a net zero carbon therapy and wellbeing centre using Hempcrete for a social enterprise, a new build sustainable private home in Donegal, Ireland, conversion of a warehouse into a furniture showroom in Liverpool, several new homes in North Wales and Anglesey as well as new housing for a community land trust. The practice has doubled in size since lockdown as they continue to enjoy a varied and sustained growing workload. 

Citizens Design Bureau 

Founded by Katy Marks in 2013, Citizens Design Bureau make architecture with distinctive personality, grounded in an ethos of inclusive sustainability. The practice covers a range of scales from public buildings to social enterprises and community led housing strategies. Current and recent work includes: The refurbishment of The Ambassadors Theatre in the West End, A new net zero carbon visitor centre for the National Trust, Manchester Jewish Museum; The Talent House for East London Dance and Urban Development Music in Stratford - including new dance and music recording studios; Refurbishment and remodelling of Jacksons Lane Arts Centre; Remodelling and straw bale extension to Studio 3 Arts Centre in Barking; St. Peter’s in the Forest Church; Retail and community use strategies for Woodberry Down Estate, New Library on the Olympic Park for the LLDC, Village Design Guides for Cambridgeshire villages and numerous private dwellings.