Journey of Discovery
Project NameConstellations Bar - urban and urbane
Robert Holmes, courtesy The Wood Awards and H Miller Bros
Photographer DetailsRobert Holmes, courtesy The Wood Awards and H Miller Bros
Constellations Bar is an outdoor venue occupying a disused industrial recycling yard and consists of a bar, food truck, art space and community garden.
Located in Liverpool’s up-and-coming creative quarter, The Baltic Triangle, the project occupies a disused industrial recycling yard. The project was the brainchild of Becky Pope, Nick Baskerville and Paul Seiffert, whose diverse backgrounds include community events organisation, marketing and craft beer brewing.
Brothers Hugh and Howard Miller, a furniture maker and a practicing architect, collaborated on this project to rekindle the arts & crafts ideal of Gesamtkunstwerk – a ‘total work of art’.
Approached in April 2014, the brothers were tasked with designing and making the venue to be operational by that summer. From appointment to the opening party of Constellations was a little over three months!
Architect: Howard Miller Design
Builder: H. Miller Bros
Engineer: Materian Ltd.
The design takes inspiration from the site; an enclosed brick courtyard created when the roof of a former warehouse burned down in the 1980’s.
The surviving gables provide a backdrop to the design and their pitches are reflected as a motif in the profile of the canopy.
The canopy, along with all the other components, were prefabricated in the H. Miller Bros. workshop, and slotted together on site in three days.
The waffle soffit was made from standard construction timber, planed down to remove rounded edges and grade markings. The undulations of the soffit create a variety of atmospheric spaces – beer hall, dining room, and intimate seating area – unified by the regular pattern of the ceiling.
The structure is supported by a set of ten ‘quadrapods’ – doubled A-Frame supports - made from green oak. As well as incorporating bench seating or a table, they carry the load of the canopy via glulam beams, which project from the roof to form a wing-shaped rainspout.
Taking inspiration from both the name of the site and the gabled rooflines of the surrounding Victorian warehouses, the designers developed a triangle motif that formed the basis of the structure and its components.
Lengths of standard construction timber were used to create a waffle-like canopy that slopes up and down to frame three different sections. The first two accommodate a bar and a third can be used as a DJ booth.
The angles of the zigzagging roofline run parallel with the profiles of the ageing brick warehouses directly behind, while the exposed underside creates a pattern of tessellating triangles.
Despite the repeating pattern of the ceiling, the architect says the undulations of the soffit create a variety of atmospheric spaces across the beer hall, dining room, and intimate seating area.
The Miller brothers prefabricated all of the components for the build in their workshop, which is also located within the Baltic Triangle. They were then slotted together on site in just three days.
Constellations ‘reinvents’ a concrete shell into a space designed to host art, music, business and grassroots events.
The vast space is split into four segments: a 'hidden garden' called Constellations, The 88 (studio space), and the Observatory (a daytime canteen), and transforms into a night bar plus large central events space.
The design takes inspiration from an enclosed brick courtyard, created on the site when the roof of a former warehouse burned down in the 1980’s. The remaining gables provide a backdrop to the design and these pitches are reflected as a motif in the profile of the bar canopy.
The courtyard garden is populated with bespoke green oak furniture – conceived as a set of tessellating components – and planted one-tonne builders bags. All elements are easily movable, allowing the space to be reconfigured to accommodate the rolling program of arts events, performance, cinema screenings and a market.
The furniture – a series of stools, benches and tables – was made specifically for the site. Some elements are triangular, but all can be slotted together to make larger furniture pieces.
The project won the commercial and leisure section of the 2015 UK Wood Awards and was shortlisted by the RIBA.