Public Realm at the Heart of Placemaking – Creating a World Leading Innovation District for Liverpool: PUBLIC REALM & URBAN SPACES Smart Class 2023 Retrospective


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Knowledge Quarter Liverpool (KQ Liverpool) is a 450 acre urban innovation district which spans more than half of Liverpool City Centre. Bringing together the University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool City Council and Bruntwood SciTech, KQ Liverpool is the strategic and placeshaping organisation tasked with developing a world-leading innovation district.

Sciontec is the commercial spin-out development of KQ Liverpool, with the vision to own and operate the most innovative science and technology buildings in the World. Sciontec owns and operates Liverpool Science Park, manages Sciontec AI serviced space offices in The Spine and is developing HEMISPHERE at Paddington Village.

Colin Sinclair, CEO of KQ Liverpool and Sciontec, joined us at PUBLIC REALM & URBAN SPACES Smart Class 2023 earlier this month to deliver the opening keynote! Colin highlighted the importance of public realm to placemaking, using the landmark £1bn Paddington Village development site in KQ Liverpool as a key example. Paddington Village sits at the eastern gateway to KQ Liverpool and is an urban village that has Science, Tech, Education and Health within its DNA. Paddington began to rise from the ground back in 2017 and is now proudly home to The University of Liverpool Kaplan International College, Clatterbridge Cancer Centre’s Community Diagnostics Centre, the Novotel Liverpool Paddington Village hotel, a Multi-Storey Car Park, and The Spine. Sciontec’s £56m HEMISPHERE scheme is the next plot to be developed on Paddington Village and will be Liverpool City Region’s first operational net zero new build.

Colin’s presentation also explored the role that public realm and urban spaces can play in delivering inclusive innovation and in the case of KQ Liverpool “Being a Better Neighbour” to surrounding communities, removing both the physical and invisible barriers to opportunities within the innovation economy.

Summary of presentation highlights:

  • Background: Why did Liverpool need a world leading innovation district “Powered by knowledge and fuelled by culture”?
  • Introducing KQ Liverpool and the university, public and private sector partnership;
  • Mapping the innovation district: HEMISPHERE and The Spine (Sciontec AI) in Paddington Village, Liverpool Science Park (iC1, iC2 and iC3), Sensor City, Digital Innovation Facility, Accelerator, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, University of Liverpool Foundation Building, LJMU Student Life Building, Materials Innovation Factory, Pembroke House etc;
  • The KQ Liverpool 2025 Vision – Focusing on five main strands: 1) Being a better neighbour 2) Creating a smarter, greener city 3) Growing businesses and attracting inward investment 4) Attracting and retaining talent 5) Collaborating with purpose; KQ Liverpool Board comprises strong local leadership unified by this shared aim for the area;
  • Developing a place making strategy that connects culture and innovation through art and public realm;
  • The importance of visible transformation – Paddington Village 2016-2023;
  • Building something iconic! One of the world’s healthiest buildings, The Spine is HQ to KQ Liverpool and Sciontec and also home to the Royal College of Physicians and numerous innovation-led businesses;
  • Creating a destination – Phase One of Paddington Village is well underway. Now need to bring forward proposed laboratory buildings, complete the public realm and create an inspiring business-led destination;

  • HEMISPHERE – An eco trailblazer: “Each building must be better than the last”;
  • Compound Labs – Liverpool Labs with global impact/A winning formula due for completion in Summer 2026;
  • Meanwhile use – Animating the site whilst constructing the final buildings;
  • Completing the vision – Inclusive innovation ethos centres on the importance of creating flexible event space, the provision of on site amenities, running inspirational community support programmes, and encouraging sustainable commuting through the open access site for cyclists and the public to walk through;
  • Paddington Square – A space where everyone is welcome: In the middle of Paddington Village will be an expansive public square, complete with trees, stunning biophilia, street furniture and numerous places for people to relax. It will double up as an events space, for anything from farmers markets to concerts, with all of the required infrastructure in place to turn any occasion into a real moment;
  • The wider innovation district – “In addition to delivering the ‘meanwhile uses’ for Paddington Village and the final public realm needed to make the site a destination, we are supporting Liverpool City Council’s initiatives to improve the quality of the public realm across the entire innovation district”: Green Routes, Street Intervention Sites, Public Car Parks, Entry Points, Street Art, Street Greenery, Street Furniture, Street Sculpture;
  • What could we do better? Could we have done things differently?

If you meet our regular delegate qualification criteria but were unable to join us at The Shipping Office (Lloyds House), Manchester, for the live in-person event on July 4th, CLICK HERE and complete the short “Download form” (located at the bottom of the post) to receive a unique link enabling free access to the presentation video recordings and slides (including the film footage and slides from Colin’s keynote).

Those qualifying to receive the rich presentation content from this event include commissioning, procurement, trialling, partnering and policy leads, senior influencers, strategic decision makers, planners, place makers, architects, green space managers, urban designers, highways & street scene, transport & mobility and high streets & regeneration professionals from councils and local authorities (city, borough, metropolitan, district, county and combined); people and place partnerships; developers, landowners and creators of privately owned public spaces; prime contractors and city centre management companies; DfT, DEFRA, MHCLG, EA and supporting governmental bodies; transport authorities, highways agencies and public transport operators; civic organisations and community groups; and other key players from the public realm ecosystem with responsibility for managing, maintaining and operating our streets, squares, forecourts, parks, pathways, retail centres, car parks, airports, ports, travel hubs, hospitals, housing estates, campuses, communal gardens and the assets contained within these public or semi-public spaces.

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PUBLIC REALM & URBAN SPACES Smart Classes show key buyer side stakeholders how to harness innovation, technology, data science, design and best practice to create the next generation of smarter spaces and places in our cities and regions. PUBLIC REALM & URBAN SPACES Smart Class 2023 will be hosted in Manchester on July 4th.


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