Architecture for physicians: RCP North inspires Liverpool’s School of Architecture

In 2016, it was announced that the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) was to commission an architect to design a centre in Liverpool to serve the north of England; an ambitious project that caught the attention and imagination of the University of Liverpool School of Architecture, who used the concept of the project as the subject of an architecture BA final year project.

The school used the architecture of the London RCP building, designed by modernist architect Denys Lasdun, as inspiration for the project.

Concept design for RCP North. Callum Rankin.

Course leader, Richard Dod explained:

Following a site visit to RCP in Regents Park, each student was subsequently required to design a building for the Royal College of Physicians North on a site in Liverpool exploring relationships between tradition and modernity and how client identity may influence or be embedded within the design of a headquarters building.

The students observed on their visit how the RCP uses its space for multiple functions; including museum and exhibition space, traditional ceremonial use, spaces for learning and training as well as a busy conference and events venue.

RCP North concept design model. Jianqiu Liu.

Final designs and models included an exhibition space to showcase the RCP’s museum collection on an urban site within an historic city. Students produced high-quality drawings as part of their projects, addressing specific needs of a client whilst engaging with an urban context.

RCP North concept model. Amber Lines.

Student Zhao Zhang said:

The RCP London site visit and Denys Lasdun inspired my design considerably. The combination of cold external building structure and warm orange interior carpet work well together. As a response, I used a cold steel structure and warm colour timber interior. The different corridor levels and exhibition space connected by central stairs are impactful. The viewer is aware of activities throughout the building which creates a safe and relaxing environment.

Concept model for RCP North. Zhao Zhang.

In reality of course, RCP North will be designed by a professional architecture consultancy practice: AHR Architects, currently in stage one of a 5-year project that will see the RCP occupy half of a 140,000 square foot building in the heart of Paddington Village, part of Knowledge Quarter Liverpool.

Natalie Craven, public programmes officer

Read our weekly library, archive and museum blog to learn more about the RCP’s collections, and follow @RCPmuseum on Twitter and @rcpmuseum on Instagram.