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Isabel Daykin

The refuge

The scheme involved the design of a demountable canoe hub in Bootle, along the Liverpool-Leeds Canal, as specified by the client, a community-led trust, named ‘SAFE Regeneration’. The canoe hub serves as a temporary structure, and is the first phase of a larger masterplan, which includes residential and commercial buildings. In the future the Canoe Hub will be relocated to another spot along the canal.  The Canoe Hub will be utilised by the community of Bootle and people using the canal.  The key design driver of the project was the need to create a welcoming place in Bootle, which is accessible to everyone. The canoe hub features five single-storey timber buildings, elevated on stilts and connected by an outdoor decking. The decking is accessed via ramps, one to the north of the site and one to the west, from the tunnel. Each building holds a function: the building first accessed from the east ramp is the café; then the exhibition hall which is more secluded, in order to have more security; followed by the changing rooms and toilets which are in one building set further back; then the lobby which watches over the space and the canoe storage at the end with a ramp that leads into the waters of Carolina Basin, so that canoes do not go straight into the canal. A series of gathering spaces are created on the decking through the placement of the buildings. Two sunken gardens are also created between the decking.