At last, the future of one of Liverpool’s best-loved urban buildings can be assured, it was announced this week.The former Contemporary Urban Centre (CUC) on Greenland Street is set for a fresh new life as an educational centre of excellence, delivering ground-breaking science and technology education to 14-19-year-olds.
The closure of the CUC back in January surprised and saddened many who had loved the gloriously restored Victorian warehouse as a contemporary music, arts and entertainment venue.
For the past six months, the empty building, with its vaulted crypt basement, 120-seat cinema, bare brick walls and 150,000 square feet of polished oak floorboards, has echoed to the sound of its owner’s pledge to see that the iconic building passes into the right hands. “I want it to go to something that adds to the Baltic Triangle,” Maff Potts, chief executive of social charity ‘People Can’, stated back in December. Forced to sell due to the economic downturn, Potts had turned to regeneration agency Liverpool Vision for help in ensuring that “when we finish here, we don’t let Liverpool down.”
By incredible chance and perfect timing, North Liverpool Academy Trust was looking for a suitable city-centre home, where its two planned new schools, due to open in September 2013, could provide cutting-edge facilities for students in life sciences and digital gaming technology. The schools will spend the next year fitting the building out with state-of-the-art equipment that will be the envy of scientists and technologists the world over.
The Studio and Liverpool Life Sciences University Technical College both have the backing of the Department of Education to provide a bold and forward-looking style of education for 14-19-year-olds. Integrating academic subjects with specialist project-based learning, they offer an unprecedented collaboration between students and commercial businesses in growing sectors of the economy. The Studio will specialize in digital and gaming technology supported by industry partners such as Sony, Setgo Games, Onteca and Apposing. The Life Sciences UTC will provide specialist life science and healthcare education, partnered by Merseybio, Unilever, Bristol-Meyers Squibb and the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals.
Kevin McManus, Director of Merseyside ACME, describes how the two schools will add a unique dynamic to the already buzzing area while opening up a world of opportunity for Liverpool’s technology-savvy students: “The CUC is at the heart of the Baltic Triangle which is now the home to the one of Europe’s most exciting creative industry clusters. The old, light industrial buildings in the area are now playing host to some of Liverpool’s most innovative digital businesses, many with national and international reputations. Young people from the UTC and the Studio School will be able to rub shoulders with, learn from and, hopefully, collaborate with some of the UK’s leading creative companies.
“Look who is there already: Liverpool Sound City, Milky Tea, Smiling Wolf, Agent Marketing, SetGo Games and Lucid Games to name but a few. The presence of the Studio School and UTC will only add to what is already an incredibly vibrant and exciting mix in the area.”
Recognising the incredible potential of the Baltic Triangle newcomers, Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, comments:“Games development and life sciences are sectors that are growing in importance and impact year on year. Both sectors offer long term, lucrative careers to our young people if they are equipped with the skills to work in these areas. North Liverpool Academy has secured funding to establish centres of excellence for both and, really interestingly, are locating both schools at one site in the CUC which sits on the edge of my former ward and the place I was born and raised.
“Seeing the CUC brought back into use like this is a fantastic opportunity for the area, for Liverpool and for the wider city region. Once again we are showing the country and world what we as a city can achieve to create great places to learn and develop the skilled workforce of the future.”
Geoff Wainright, Director of 2Bio Ltd and Chief Executive of Liverpool Life Sciences adds: "It’s fantastic news that he new Liverpool Life Science University Technical College has secured the CUC facility for its operations. Being in the centre of Liverpool will mean that travel to it will be easy for its students wherever they come from within the wider City region. This new Life Sciences UTC has been very much welcomed by our local industry partners, with support coming from them to develop courses all with a view to ensuring that the students of the UTC receive the best possible preparation for a career in the Life Sciences Industry.
“Liverpool's Life Science Sector is an exciting, fast-paced, vibrant and growing community of pharma and biotech companies and is one of the sectors that Liverpool and the City Region has cause to be proud of. Liverpool's life sciences industry develops products that aid in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and conditions, improving the lives of people around the world. The local industry employs over 6,000 people and is complemented by research experts in our prestigious universities and hospitals. This is an industry that is truly global and represents a great career opportunity for our city's young people."