The Matchbox; as a concept, it is a steel and glass pavilion placed diagonally at the corner of the Matchworks site. As a commercial development, it is three floors of open plan, flexible, air conditioned space arranged around a central staircase and lift core with a ground floor reception, services and conference room facility.
In fact though, the Matchworks is more than this … it is an example of an accutely detailed concrete, steel and glass building with reference to architects such as Mies and Craig Ellwood. Structurally, a concrete transfer slab cantilevers over the grassy mound and supports a steel perimeter frame spanning back to the insitu concrete core.
Outside of this basic structure, with its round columns and capitals, the outer ‘window’ frame assembly gives the building its distinctive
character. This outer frame uses ‘oversize’ sections that stand slightly clear leaving space for external blinds to be incorporated on all four elevations. The blinds themselves add to the abstract appearance and can change the building from solid to void, reflective to transparent at the touch of a button.
Internally, the central core is formal and ordered with a narrow atrium using circular steel balustrades surmounted by a ‘chimney’ rooflight. Bright red teapoints are placed on each floor; the yellow washrooms are unusually high and narrow and the staircase is arranged around a raw block wall with pre-cast treads and flat stainless steel handrails. The effect is simple and straightforward: an example of how to design with a base set of materials.
Each floor can, in fact, be subdivided into two or four units with all services having ben laid out to allow such flexibility.
The ground floor is directly accessed from the main entrance and can again be subdivided into conference and seminar rooms or left open as exhibition space. The Matchbox is clear, simple and has the directness of a classical pavilion. The Matchbox is the third building to be completed by shedkm on the site in Speke, Liverpool. A fourth, the Matchstick, has recently been granted planning permission.