Firm chosen to lead architectural design of £58m transformation of Liverpool museums

Peter Clegg (FCBS), Kudzai Matsvai (UofL), Kossy Nnachetta (FCBS), Geoff Rich (FCBS), Ilze Wolff (UofL)

National Museums Liverpool has appointed Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBStudios) as the new team leading the architectural design of a £58m major redevelopment of the International Slavery Museum and Maritime Museum.

The design firm will develop the proposals for the Dr Martin Luther King Jr building and the Hartley Pavilion, building on the momentum already generated on this important strand of the Waterfront Transformation Project.

The redevelopment will see the Dr Martin Luther King Jr Building become a prominent new entrance to the International Slavery Museum, creating not only improved visitor orientation and an inspiring welcome, but also a stronger sense of purpose and identity for the museum.

The building will be multi-functional, serving as a space for community collaboration, events, and learning and participation activity, too. The Hartley Pavilion will benefit from improved circulation for visitors with enhanced commercial facilities, including a shop, café, events spaces and a dynamic temporary exhibition space.

The transformed International Slavery Museum and Maritime Museum will centre people – past, present and future, local, national and international – to create dynamic, welcoming spaces that address contemporary issues. The national collections of both museums will be elevated through this new redevelopment.

Ralph Appelbaum Associates, which was appointed in 2022, continues to lead on the exhibition design for both museums.

Laura Pye, Director of National Museums Liverpool, said: “To be bringing two such visionary designers with international reputations to the project represents the bold ambition and thinking behind it. We are delighted they’re keen to embrace this as a co-production project which we feel will create something truly ground-breaking.”

FCBStudios has offices in Manchester, Bath, London and Belfast.

The FCBStudios team will be led by partner, Kossy Nnachetta, who has been with the practice for 10 years, supported by Geoff Rich and Peter Clegg. Kossy is passionate about community design and has delivered several schools and community projects.

She said: “We understand that there is huge responsibility to help create a platform to tell this story, long whispered, yet still awaiting the space to fully express itself, and all the potent, deep-seated emotions it can elicit. We hope to help create something bold and yet beautiful. The result of ‘many hands’ working together with the museums and communities in Liverpool.”

FCBStudios will also be working with key members of the University of Liverpool School of Architecture in facilitating the co-production of the designs.
The team will include Head of School, Prof Ola Uduku, the school’s most recent professorial appointment, Prof Ilze Wolff, who is also a distinguished South African architect and founding partner of Wolff Architects, as well as EDI specialist, architectural designer, and PhD candidate Kudzai Matsvai.

All three women have engaged in research and creative practices around the issues of gender, race, slavery, colonialism and imperialism and seek ways to transform society to be more equal, anti-racist and free.

FCBStudios has worked with National Museums Liverpool previously, completing the original masterplan for its waterfront sites in 2019 and supporting the International Slavery Museum and Maritime Museum Project’s bid to the National Heritage Lottery Fund Heritage Horizon Awards programme in 2020.

This project is made possible with generous support of £9.9m from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.