The Manser Practice wins planning for Isle of Man Ferry Terminal on Liverpool Waterfront

Award-winning architecture and interiors practice, The Manser Practice, has been awarded planning approval for the new ferry terminal, which will serve the Isle of Man from Liverpool’s UNESCO World Heritage Waterfront, on behalf of the Isle of Man Government.

Due to the site’s historical context, the terminal building is modest in scale and sympathetic to its high-profile location, with a form that is driven by the architect’s aim to create a coherent, organised and efficient layout. Mostly naturally ventilated, the ground level and roof of the ‘pavilion’ will be clad in zinc, which is designed to provide a naturally hard-wearing exterior appropriate for its marine setting. The roof is punctured by three, large circular rooflights, organised over key spaces below, to improve the internal experience while taking into account the bird’s-eye-view seen by passengers on the ferry as it arrives in the dock.

Throughout the building the passenger journey is emphasised, with the pedestrian route organised around the fully-glazed perimeter of the floor plates to provide continuous views to the vessel they are about to board, across the Mersey and to the city. All passengers will have direct access to the vessel from the departure lounge, an arrangement usually only available in airports and cruise terminals.

A small retail offering and café bar will be located at the ground-floor entrance, with a larger café in the first-floor departure lounge, alongside full police and passenger security facilities.

The Manser Practice’s expertise in transportation architecture, with previous experience including Southampton Ocean Cruise Terminal and Holyhead Ferry Terminal, has proved to be an asset to this challenging project on a high-profile site.

Project Architect Chris Coupland said:

“This project signifies the culmination of nearly two years’ hard work to create a design that respects the site’s heritage and its standing as a World Heritage site, whilst continuing the historic marine uses of the waterfront. We have masterplanned the whole site which has been finely tuned to passengers’ movement. Our aim has been to bring a clarity of design and organisation to the site and building. We look forward to the design being realised.”

Signifying the first outward investment by the IOM Government on mainland UK, the new terminal building will reaffirm the Isle of Man’s long-running and close connection to Liverpool, enabling its continued presence in the city. To this end, the building aims to create an ‘embassy’ that enhances the Isle of Man’s profile in Liverpool and the rest of the UK, containing facilities to provide the government with a base for their UK operations.

The terminal will cater primarily for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company’s Manannan service which can carry 850 passengers and 200 vehicles. The service currently operates up to 12 times per week, which will continue in the new facility, with a journey duration of just under three hours. The new terminal has been designed with the capacity to also accommodate the Steam Packet company’s other vessel, the ‘Ben-my-Chree’, if needed, as well as allowing for a potential third larger vessel in future.

Isle of Man Government Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer MHK said:

“The Island’s maritime link with Liverpool is crucial and historic, and the needs of passengers were placed at the forefront of the design process for the new Isle of Man Ferry Terminal. Comfortable modern facilities will be housed in a building which will serve generations of travellers well for many years to come.”

The Isle of Man Ferry Terminal site sits at Liverpool’s Prince’s Half Tide Dock, adjacent to the 27-storey Alexandra Tower and 800-m north of the Grade I listed Royal Liver Building. The project is expected to start on site in summer 2019, opening in late 2020.

Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, told the BBC:

“The new Isle of Man Terminal is a critical piece in our regeneration plans for the north shore of Liverpool. The city council is investing a huge amount of money in the transport infrastructure to support this new facility and we look forward to its completion. The Isle of Man and Liverpool have a historic relationship and this new ferry terminal will cement our strong links and forge even closer ties into the future.”