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Insulation may be issue as Liverpool reaches for the sky

In recent years the number of skyscrapers in Britain has grown rapidly. While London now has one building over 1,000 ft tall and more planned, Manchester is in the throes of its own boom and other tall buildings are popping up in big cities across Britain.

Liverpool might have been relatively slow to get in on the act, but this is now changing, and the city council has granted planning permission for one of several projects set to change the Merseyside skyline.

The £250 million Infinity scheme is the brainchild of the Elliot Group, a developer founded by local entrepreneur Elliot Lawless. The group is involved in several residential apartment projects in the city centre, which has seen a boom in such developments in recent years after lagging behind its neighbours for some time. This particular development, however, is undoubtedly the signature project for the group, consisting of three towers in an ascending row on the corner of Leeds Street and Pall Mall. They will be 27, 33 and 39 storeys high respectively and the tallest of them will be 436 ft in height.

It will be the biggest residential project in Liverpool, with 1,002 apartments as well as a gym, spa, office space and other amenities. Moreover, its location on the elevated northern edge of the city centre and the shimmering reflective glass design will make the development a major landmark for the city, perhaps one to rival the Radio City Tower or even the Liver Building.

Mr Lawless said: "This is a proud moment for me and I’m grateful for the council backing me to develop such a prestigious scheme.

"They’ve seen our track record of delivery in recent years and know that when we promise performance and quality, that’s what will happen.

"So much is going on in the north end [of Liverpool], with Everton’s new stadium, the Ten Streets initiative and a range of other high quality tower projects.

"We'll have a dramatic cluster to greet our cruise passengers as they approach the Pier Head and the sense of them arriving somewhere confident and special will be palpable."

Of course, such a development will mean plenty of work for insulators. Indeed, any large steel and glass building will need to be very well equipped to keep it warm. The apartments on the higher floors will face lower air temperatures and stronger wind chill factors.

With Liverpool joining other cities like neighbouring Manchester in building ever more skyscrapers, the issue of keeping such buildings warm and well-insulated is one that may become increasingly prominent. For while the skylines of British cities are seeing a plethora of steel and glass towers rising up, not everybody is convinced this is the best or most energy-efficient way forward.

An article published this week in Architecture and Design notes that this view is not confined to the fringes, but to some major players in the design sector. Ken Shuttleworth, who worked on the 20 St Mary's Axe building in London - commonly known as the Gherkin - while on the payroll of Foster + Partners, has now said he wouldn't design a building in that way again. He is one of a number of architects now opposed to steel and glass buildings because, even with triple glazing, such shells offer less heat retention than an insulated wall.

At present, however, such views are clearly not prevailing. If that changes in the future, however, it could be that the trio of sleek towers rising up on the northern edge of Liverpool become part of a dying breed of building design.


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