7 Water Street

7 Water Street is a grade II listed former banking premises (latterly offices) located in the heart of Liverpool’s historic downtown district, occupying half a narrow city block. MGMA secured detailed planning permission and listed building consent for the conversion of the upper floors to comprise 10 duplex and triplex apartments.

A three-storey extension has been added over the Lower Castle Street wing and the courtyard restored at second floor, replacing the lantern over the banking hall barrel vault with a terrace from which the apartments are accessed. The elevated terrace affords a hitherto unseen relationship with the historic downtown context; the adjacent signature works of Herbert Rowse at India Buildings (1924-32) and Martins Bank (1927-32) are revealed at their upper levels in a new perspective.

The morphology of the building reveals several layers of modification, beginning with an 1896 L-shaped building by Grayson & Ould for the Bank of Liverpool. Expansion to the adjacent structures creates a horseshoe-shaped courtyard building occupying half the city block. The palazzo frontage was added in 1934 by Palmer & Holden for the National Provincial Bank, along with the vaulted banking hall, displacing the courtyard. The upper storeys provide narrow wings overlooking the lantern roof over the banking hall, the Lower Castle Street side being part demolished in the mid-C20.

The new extension respects the parapet line of the existing blocks, stitching together the previously disjointed volumes of the Water Street and Lower Castle Street wings, a materially lightweight response to the granite classicism of the frontage.

The rooftop courtyard restores the horseshoe plan as developed through the 1896 and 1934 iterations; formal continuity with material change. The fluted Doric pilasters in grey granite of the Water Street frontage are echoed in the profiled aluminium mesh, solidity dissolved through perforation. The offset rhythm of the new elevations derives from the grid of the vaulted ceiling of the banking hall, itself echoed in the grid of the courtyard landscape.