It’s finally happening – the Baltic is getting a brilliant new space. Part secret garden, part indoor playground – a space for music, art, creativity and imagination. It’s the culmination of months of planning, dreaming, building and scheming by two of our bessies, Becky Pope and Nick Baskerville, and will open its Greenland Street doors very, very soon.

zz18062014flats1There are hideous things in the Baltic pipeline – Heaps Mill’s gorgeous, glowing red-bricked warehouses pencilled to be demolished by a Seychelles-based developer’s plans (pic r) for an enormo-apartment complex, pug-ugly student flats off Jamaica Street, and rumblings of more on the way. The neighbourhood’s future direction has never seemed more in-the-balance. Thank god there are some who are determined to ensure the triangle remains anything but square.

To succeed, areas like the Baltic need to grow organically – but at this crucial stage in their evolution, we need to be mindful about opening the area up to genetically mutated strains like the one pictured left. One bad planning decision could scupper the city’s last chance to seed an area that is doing something special – from Baltic Bakehouse to the Liverpool’s Flyover Project, the Baltic is a place where great things happen by great people. Constellations looks set to continue that apace. Let’s hope it’s a tipping point for the area’s survival as a creative, grass-roots urban wonderland.

We donned metaphorical hardhats and took a tour ahead of Constellations’ opening next month…

What’s the big idea?

Nick: Constellations is about bringing people together to share inspirational and creative experiences and events. This space is the realisation of our childhood dreams, the chance to build a creative place from scratch, working with a team of individuals and businesses across the city. This has really cemented the community approach we have always wanted to bring to our work.

Becky: Constellations is about putting ideas into action and 2014 feels like the right time to do this, It’s already been a great year for Liverpool in terms of art, music and culture. The spirit of the city feels rejuvenated. The project has been self-funded and is being pulled together with real blood, sweat and tears and over time the space will develop as finances allow!

constellations2Take us on a journey. What lies within those huge metal gates?

Becky: Phase one is the garden and creative studio space. Despite the mix of offices and studios already available in Baltic there is still a shortage and especially resourced spaces.

So the garden is ‘hidden’ in a 6000 square-foot yard, designed by a local furniture maker Hugh Miller and his architect brother Howard Miller – who have a new combined studio workshop space on Blundell Street. The furniture has been made by Mike Kerslake known for his work with the Kazimier and working from his own workshop space in the north docks and the overall planting scheme has been curated by Gemma Jerome, a local permaculture design enthusiast and greenspace civic designer.

Nick: The space will operate on a seasonal basis and has the potential to operate seven days a week dependendent on demand and programming – and the promise of a sunny summer.

Our food offer will be hosted by local food champions, launching with a weekend residency from Can Cook Studios and their incredible new food truck – a converted glass sided shipping container complete with BBQ kitchen.

Our Studio space is being curated alongside Mike Bennett, Milk Presents – Henry Pulp, and the space will become home to a range of established businesses with flexible spaces for new ventures. The emphasis is on how to make sustainable businesses which enable people to pursue their creative passions. So you can start you business on a laptop in the co-working space, make your wares in the resource space, launch them with an event in the main space and sell them at the weekend markets and in our online store.

Phase two is the daytime canteen and co-working space, evening bar and the indoor events space – all wrapped up under the title of The Observatory. We’re working with another raft of Baltic businesses to complete this phase, Rob Fletcher from Parkside Building Design and Steve Threlfall from Different Studio.

Whilst the weather is good and the sun is shining there will be a larger emphasis on events and activities in the Garden. We want to provide a diverse event programme, creating an intersection of art, music, food and conversation.

constellations1What are you hoping it will add to the Baltic mix?

Becky: Baltic lacks a green space, with a couple of thousand people living in the area, a thousand plus working in the area and hundreds of visitors already coming to the area on a daily basis, it feels time for another place to gather both under the sun by day and beneath the stars by night.

Being in the Baltic for the last three years has made us excited about Liverpool again – we’ve noticed some incredible projects start up from people willing to seize opportunity and take their own chances, this has been a big inspiration to us. So much so, we have followed suit and hope we can offer the same support to other people wanting to make new spaces and businesses in the area.

Although a lot of comparisons have been made with famous city neighbourhoods such as Shoreditch or the Meatpacking District to us, the potential of the Baltic and other creative pockets of the city centre is more than just replicating the trendy and driving visitor numbers. Its a chance people to work together to create something new in the city by people who have lived and worked in the city.

Nick: Creative and digital businesses have breathed new life into the area, but we felt there was still a gap for designer and makers in the fold. There is a need for more flexible workspace for people to base their businesses from, along with increasing access to equipment and materials.

As for events, we’re planning an exciting programme that will draw people to our neck of the woods – provided in-house and from the city’s music and art promoters – its about being consistent, approachable and affordable; and making a lot of new friends along the way.

constellations3What have you got coming up we can look forward to?

Becky: With the summer officially here we’re busy planning an event programme to reflect our mission and this will be delivered through a diverse range of events and activities. As soon as we’ve had the officially thumbs up we’ll be releasing full details on our website and social media.

The vision for the garden and indoor events space and canteen/bar will form the backdrop for a rolling programme of arts and business events ranging from live music, cinema experiences, theatre and dance performances to conferences, workshops, exhibitions, networking and training.

Nick: Over the last two months we have been connecting with businesses and event organisers in and outside of Liverpool so we can bring some brand new events to the city. One of our earliest events is Liverpool Sound City Digital on the 17th July.

When’s it all happening?

Becky: With an outdoor events space opening this summer we always knew it would be pretty essential to be ready to open phase one at the beginning of July.

What are you most excited about?

Nick: The whole project has and continues to be exciting so it’s hard to say put a pin on it. I guess right now it’s hard not to be excited about the moment we throw open the doors and people get to see the spaces for the first time. We’ll be releasing more information about our opening on our website so do pay us a visit and sign up to our mailing list so we can keep all our friends and guests updated.

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4 Responses to “My God, it’s full of stars: Constellations set for Baltic opening”

  1. Mike Townsend

    Something very strange about this piece, and the rest of Sevenstreets’ coverage of Constellations. No mention at all of Waxxx and HAUS, the guys who had been running the same building and courtyard for two years before, and who were arguably responsible for reconnecting the Baltic Triangle with the city’s youth culture through their regular and thriving parties. I appreciate that Constellations looks like a great project, but they wouldn’t be able to have done any of this without the work the guys behind HAUS and Waxxx did beforehand.

  2. JD Moran

    How come HAUS is no more? The excitement of new venues popping up is ofetn dampened a bit when I learn that it’s replacing an existing venue.

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