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Alsop’s cloud seeks a new home

October 15 2004

A revamped version of Will Alsop\'s Fourth Grace ‘cloud’ building could yet find a new home, with rumours that it could end up in Birmingham or across the Mersey on the Wirral, where it could be turned into an entertainment complex or casino. Alsop has reportedly had talks with Reddington Finance, the consortium that owns the former Cammell Laird\'s shipyard on Birkenhead waterfront, and has begun to put together a masterplan examining where the building could go and what alterations would need to be made.

Reddington\'s ambitious £1bn investment plans also include building a passenger ferry terminal to link the site with the airport at Speke, creating a snow dome with skiing and snowboarding facilities, a concert arena, two marinas and luxury apartments. Reddington bought the yard last year after it had lain derelict for 12 years. However, plans are far from definite, as Wirral Council insists the land can only be used to create jobs in marine engineering, although Reddington seem determined that their schemes will eventually get the go-ahead.

Plans for the Fourth Grace collapsed after projected costs rose from £228m to £324m and fears grew that it may not be completed in time for the 2008 Capital of Culture celebrations. A public inquiry has just finished into what went wrong, with a report due before the end of the month.
The scrapping of the Fourth Grace project has been named as one of the reasons behind the recent redundancies of fourteen of Will Alsop’s staff, along with slowdowns in other projects such as the Middlehaven masterplan and the Stonebridge Health Centre in north-west London. The redundancies affect eight full and six part-time jobs at the London office, and brings the total redundancy figure at the London office to 25 over the course of this summer.

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