Market Place is a civic public square, cafe building and market canopy in the historic market town of Prescot.

CGI view looking toward Market Place during the day

The project was commissioned by Knowsley Council to resolve a number of issues with the historic existing market square. Dating from the origins of the town (circa. 7th century), and sitting at the confluence of key routes and sites, the square was underused, poorly maintained since a 1960’s refurbishment and acted as a barrier to movement from the town centre to the historic churchyard.

We proposed a new, flexible civic space, allowing the local community and visitors to use it for new and established events: a mug fair or market, to a popup cinema or winter ice rink. Anchored with a community cafe building, the space responds sensitively to its situation. A market canopy identifies the market within the wider town centre area while referencing the historic ‘roundhouse’ jailhouse which once stood in a similar location. Along the northern edge of the square we proposed a wall of scalloped seating and a stepped access route connecting the square to the Jacobean church beyond.

Photograph of materials palette

We considered how pedestrians and cyclists will approach the site, drawing to explore routes and arrivals from south and north to determine how best to place elements within the square. The main stair, canopy and seating wall edge work together to create a stronger sense of arrival into the town centre.

CGI view looking toward Market Place at night

Our aesthetic cues were the surrounding conservation area and the past structures of the town’s heritage buildings: the Roundhouse, Market and Town Hall. We researched the local red sandstone, ‘Mersey grit’, and tested material samples using the local red sand to make pale red precast concrete panels embedding the market buildings within their context.

The project reached the final shortlist of the RIBA Market Place competition.

Photograph of 1:200 scale model

Wall detail photograph of St Mary's Church