Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The Corridor Vs The Maze

The Leech:

Manchester has inflicted a great tragedy upon it’s self in the last 50 years. Like all universities their student community has metamorphosed into a seasonal leech that instantly embodies a vast area of the city for 9 months before dispersing into a much sparser area for hibernation. The “Leech” substantially fluctuates the city’s population, however they do not appear to be affiliated to the city, they are a separate entity that follows it’s own rules and style of life. Except the “Leech” is a necessity, without it Manchester wouldn’t be able to support itself, as much as it’s unusual behavior and profound lack of awareness of the neighboring communities disrupt the social make up, it is an investment, that will eventually be dissolved by the city and become apart of the machine.

The student community of Manchester that sprawls across the corridor of Oxford Road neglects the permanent communities that make up the rest of Manchester and as as a result live an isolated life that could benefit greatly by becoming a key component in the wider context. However I do not believe that it is the individual students persona that causes the fragmentation, in fact this vast social divide has nothing to do with the social landscape, instead it is down to the simple geographical location of the University.

The Corridor:

Campus based Universities isolate themselves within a specific boundary, these work in outskirts of cities, but when a city adopts a university campus within it’s heart the student community is forced to accommodate the nearest residential zones and stay as close to where they study ignoring it’s surroundings. In the case of Manchester’s Oxford Road everything needed to live can be found on this one “Corridor”, stretched from Fallowfield directly in to the City Centre, which immediately causes the social separation of the communities. If one has everything in one place, why would one purposefully travel further to get what is already so close? Manchester is not the only case, Leeds for examples harbors the same problem along it’s Otley Road, although it appears to be a few years behind Manchester in terms of it’s severity.

The Maze:

The “Corridor” problem isn’t destroying Manchester, on the contrary, it harmless resides in it’s place, but a city is a single entity and in order for it to develop and improve the issues of the student community have to be dealt with. The occupation of the “Corridor” needs to disperse and fan out in order to be absorbed by the surrounding communities except the promise of a better city isn’t enough incentive for such a vast group of people. My solution, although abstract in form, does address the issues raised if Oxford Road was eliminated from Manchester and in it’s place lay a vast maze of roads that forced you to explore other areas of Manchester, perhaps then Manchester could evolve as an individual city.

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