Mayors officially open £35m Liverpool ‘healthy’ office building

Comprising 200,000 sq ft of space, The Spine in Liverpool’s £2bn Knowledge Quarter will be the northern home of the Royal College of Physicians. Tony McDonough reports

The Spine
The Spine, a 200,000 sq ft office building in Liverpool’s Knowledge Quarter. Picture by Christian Smith


A 200,000 sq ft office development in Liverpool’s Knowledge quarter described as “one of the world’s healthiest buildings” will be officially opened today.

Liverpool’s newly-elected Mayor, Joanne Anderson, and city region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, will attend the launch of The Spine, a 14-storey, £35m development in Paddington Village, in the heart of the Knowledge Quarter (KQ Liverpool).

Morgan Sindall Construction has now completed construction of the building as part of the wider KQ Liverpool project championed by former Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson. The Royal College of Physicians has signed a lease to occupy 70,000 sq ft of space for its new northern headquarters.

The historic medical institution, whose roots go back to the reign of Henry VIII, has spent £13m fitting out its offices across seven floors to accommodate exams, education facilities, conferences and meetings.

Another floor will be occupied by the Clatterbridge Hospital Trust. Agents for the office accommodation, CBRE say there is strong interest from potential occupiers in the remaining six floors. 

READ MORE: Office take-up falls 50% in Liverpool city region

The Spine has been designed according to the scientific and medical research principles established in the international WELL Standard to achieve WELL Platinum. It is on track to be one of the healthiest workspaces for mental health and physical wellbeing in the UK.

It is the first grade A office building in the Liverpool city region for more than a decade. It will also be the highest in the city, sitting at the eastern gateway to the Knowledge KQ Liverpool.

Designed by architects AHR, its layout and design also 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 1,400 glass panels.

The eco-credentials are also 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.

A dedicated exhibition space on the first floor will connect via a staircase to a ground floor café and foyer, while the higher floors, which are circa 11,550 sq ft, will enjoy some of the best views of the city thanks to floor-to-ceiling glazing throughout.

In what will be their first joint public event since being elected, Joanne Anderson and  Steve Rotheram will take a tour of the building, which will include meeting some of the 90 young apprentices who have helped to construct The Spine over the past four years.

They will be greeted by Dr Andrew Goddard, the President of the Royal College of Physicians. The RCP represents more than 40,000 doctors throughout the world. RCP at The Spine will be the organisation’s northern home and its first significant presence outside of London, providing events, activities and services closer to its northern members. 

Joanne Anderson, said: “The Spine is simply stunning and very much reflects the Liverpool we all want to see develop in 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.

The Spine
Dr Andrew Goddard, Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson and Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram at launch of The Spine on Friday. Picture by Liverpool City Council


“Of course, it’s not just about beautiful buildings. Paddington Village is stimulating new investment, creating apprenticeships and high quality job opportunities that will strengthen Liverpool’s economy for decades to come.”

The building, which has generated an estimated social value to the local economy of £28.9m, 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.

When complete, Paddington Village, which received £12m from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority towards a £20m infrastructure programme, will feature several other buildings, some of which are already occupied.

The University of Liverpool’s International College and The Rutherford Cancer Centre NW, opened in 2020 and a new hotel by Novotel 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.

Steve 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.”

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