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Official opening of The Spine in Liverpool

by Liam Turner
The Spine

The Spine, one of the world’s healthiest buildings, has been officially opened in Paddington Village in Liverpool.

The 160,000 square foot, 14-storey building was designed by architecture and building consultancy practice AHR. It is the first Grade-A office building in the Liverpool City Region for more than a decade and is the highest in the city, standing more than 500ft above sea level.

Designed according to the scientific and medical research principles established in the international WELL Standard, the £35m building has achieved WELL Platinum and is on track to be one of the healthiest workspaces for mental health and physical wellbeing in the UK.

The Spine uses biophilic design principles, with strong connections to nature established throughout the building. The distinctive façade takes inspiration from the human skin, with the Voronoi pattern including 23 million individual polygons applied in a frit pattern to the glazing.

Its eco-credentials are boosted by three double-height spaces on the ground, 10th and 12th floors, with planters containing high-oxygen-producing plants to improve the internal environment, a large number of cycle spaces and electric car charging points installed at the nearby car park.

The building will be heated by a low-carbon heating exchange based within the ground floor of the new 14-storey car park which is due to open in July this year.

Royal College of Physicians

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP), which represents over 40,000 doctors throughout the world, has taken offices across seven floors in The Spine – the organisation’s first significant presence outside of London.

RCP president Dr Andrew Goddard said: “RCP at The Spine will deliver what our members tells us they want the most – for the RCP to be educating, improving and influencing – with our state-of-the-art assessment centre and educational facilities. It will allow us to have a base for our health improvement work as we continue to set high standards in educating physicians to provide the best care for patients in the UK and across the world. Our major investment in RCP at The Spine shows that we want to get closer to our members in the north and demonstrates that we’re all about health and healthcare right across the UK today.”

As well as The RCP, Clatterbridge Cancer Centre has taken a floor, with the City Council in negotiations to complete the occupancy of the building.

There will be a dedicated exhibition space on the first floor which will connect via a staircase to a ground floor café and foyer, and there will be a fine dining space on the 13th floor.

Robert Hopkins, regional director at AHR, said: “It’s fantastic to see first-hand just how inspiring this biophilic workplace is. From the distinctive Voronoi panels to the striking geometric staircase; the trabecular columns to the abundant internal space – the innovation throughout has reflected the ambitious and pioneering nature of this new northern home for the RCP. We’re delighted with the results and look forward to seeing the impact the positive and healthy workspace has on its occupants.”

Morgan Sindall Construction was the principal contractor on the project. Its area director for Liverpool, Richard Potts, said: “The Spine’s breath-taking design does justice to what it represents for the future of our city. It symbolises the Council’s inspirational vision of ensuring that Liverpool can become an international leader in science and technology, creating the high skilled jobs that will drive both the local and national economies forward.

“The economic and social benefits of The Spine have already proven significant. As part of our work on this monumental project, we’re proud to have provided a sizeable skills boost for local people through creating jobs, apprenticeship and training programmes and hosting a range of events at our specially built Knowledge Quad within the Paddington Village site.

“It has been an absolute privilege for Morgan Sindall Construction to help deliver this sensational building and to be part of the wider Paddington Village development. I’d like to offer my congratulations to the Council, the whole project team and to warmly welcome RCP to Liverpool.”

The Spine delivery team also includes ARUP (multi-discipline engineers); CBRE (lead consultant for RCP); Overbury (fit out contractor for RCP), Knight Frank (letting agents) and KQ Liverpool (strategic support and marketing).

Tour of The Spine

In their first joint public event since being elected, the city’s new Mayor Joanne Anderson and Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram took a tour of the building, and met Dr Andrew Goddard, as well as young apprentices, employed by Morgan Sindall Construction, who worked on the build.

Anderson said: “The Spine is a stunning building and very much reflects the 21st century. Its unique design and distinctive look also symbolises the ambitions we have for Paddington Village – to create an innovation district to rival any in the UK and Europe. I’m delighted the RCP will be calling this their northern home. They are joining a fantastic roster of world class institutions and am sure will help attract others to join them. Of course, it’s not just about beautiful buildings. Paddington Village is stimulating new jobs and new investment, creating opportunities that will fuel our economy and strengthen the Liverpool Powerhouse for decades to come.”

Rotheram added: “It’s brilliant to see the investment we’ve made in the Knowledge Quarter really starting to take shape. The Spine is a building that really encapsulates a lot of my vision for the region: harnessing the expertise of our world-class universities, attracting nationwide jobs and housing it all in one of the cleanest, greenest buildings in Europe. As Mayor, it’s exactly the sort of thing I am working to deliver on a region-wide level.

“We’re already seeing the difference those investments are having. From the jobs we’re attracting with the Royal College of Physicians, to the training and apprenticeship opportunities we’re creating for local young people like those we’ve met today, we’re making sure that everybody in our region is able to benefit. This is what devolution is all about: us taking more decisions for ourselves and shaping the future of our region in a way that benefits all of our communities.”

Paddington Village, which received £12 million from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority towards a £20 million infrastructure programme, will feature several other buildings, including a new hotel by Novotel – being built by Morgan Sindall Construction – which will follow in April 2022.

Plans for further developments on Paddington are also being progressed, with designs for HEMISPHERE, a new health, life sciences and tech focused building, soon to be revealed by Liverpool Science Park owners, Sciontec Developments Limited.

At 30 acres, Paddington Village, which was once the site of a now relocated secondary school, is being developed by Liverpool City Council in three phases: Paddington Central, Paddington South and Paddington North. The £1 billion KQ Liverpool expansion site lies east of the city centre which, when complete, will be a key part of Liverpool’s world-leading innovation district – incorporating new science, technology, education and health space.

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