National Museums Liverpool has announced local RIBA chartered architects, Harrison Stringfellow, as the team who will deliver the refurbishment and design of the Grade II listed building, Hartley Hut.

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Founded by Sarah Harrison and Su Stringfellow, the Liverpool female led architectural firm have specific experience and knowledge of the creative reuse of buildings, as well as consultation and participation activity. Having supported MICA on the Dockside Buildings feasibility study last year and being part of the BIG and JA Projects shortlisted competition teams for Canning Dock, Harrison Stringfellow bring an unmatched outlook to this project.  

Feeding into the overall Waterfront Transformation Project, the reactivation of the Hartley Hut provides an opportunity to use the building to be both visitor and commercially orientated. It provides a fantastic opportunity to bring back this unutilised historic building and supplement the ongoing transformation of Liverpool’s Waterfront, while being sympathetic to the history of the site.  

The Hartley Hut (which was one of the Watchmen’s Huts), is one of three octagonal granite cabins from 1844, designed by Jesse Hartley, as part of the Albert Dock construction. They were shelters for the workers operating the gates into the river. With shallow pyramidal roofs, and overhanging cornice eaves, Harrison Stringfellow have ambitions of restoring and conserving the historic fabric. The hut is a fantastic example of Hartley’s signature ‘cyclopean’ architecture. Cyclopean masonry is a type of stonework found in Mycenaean architecture, built with massive limestone boulders, roughly fitted together with minimal clearance between adjacent stones and with clay mortar or no use of mortar. The term comes from the belief of classical Greeks that only the mythical Cyclopes had the strength to move the enormous boulders that made up the walls of Mycenae and Tiryns. 

This hut will be reimagined and re-utilised with a view to have it as a new food and beverage outlet and providing an overall enhanced visitor experience on the Royal Albert Dock, with the aim of becoming more sophisticated in integrating food and beverage as part of the overall destination to the waterfront. 

Karen O’Connor, Director of Commercial Enterprise commented: 

“We are delighted to be working with Harrison Stringfellow to bring Hartley Hut back to life, giving visitors to Liverpool’s historic waterfront the opportunity to experience this iconic building in a new, exciting way.  

As well as creating a quality food and beverage offer for visitors, all profits generated from Hartley Hut will be returned to support the work of National Museums Liverpool. We will work with our community groups in bringing the right partnership for the visitor profile, to complement the overall destination.” 

Spanning the area between the Royal Albert Dock and Mann Island, the transformation project will take in key landmarks including the creation of pedestrian links to the Canning Dock while also bringing life to multiple buildings within the area as part of a 10-year masterplan of transformation of Liverpool’s waterfront. The highlight of the transformations will be the redevelopment of the Dr Martin Luther King Jr Building – formerly the Dock Traffic Office – which stands as a major iconic focal point of the Royal Albert Dock and will provide a dramatic and prominent entrance to the International Slavery Museum (ISM) as part of the plans.  


Harrison Stringfellow said: 

“We are delighted to be working with National Museums Liverpool on the first of their waterfront transformation projects.  The bijoux Hartley Hut will help connect the portfolio of buildings and public space, each with their own unique qualities and purpose in defining a world class cultural experience for new and returning visitors.” 

The physical transformation of Hartley Hut will consider the historic environment within which it sits, whilst capitalising on commercial opportunities to supplement the visitor experience. Repairs to the fabric of the building will promote the conservation of the historic built environment whilst introducing a welcome quality food and beverage kiosk to the dockside culture.