Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Can Aesthetics Improve Social Disorder

Approach From Chorlton Road - Image Copyright of 2e

News has just arrived that Manchester based 2E architects have landed the job of re-cladding 4 existing residential tower blocks on Chorlton Road, at the edge of Mancunian Way. The designs look to clad 3 in a dark chocolate terracotta on 3 facades and a rust proof metal facia on the last facade. The other tower, St Georges, smaller in size, will be cladding with a much lighter shade of terracotta on all four sides. The designs bring a refreshing look to the rather dated and typical looking tower blocks.

St Georges Tower Design, Image Copyright to 2e

As much as this news offers a face lift to a centralised area of Manchester, it brings the question of whether it is suitable. Tower blocks sprung up throughout the UK post World War 2 as an idealistic view on future living. Terrace housing was replaced with cities in the sky. People flocked to the new builds and a time of prosperity blossomed. 20 years later and deterioration began to appear. A lot of occupants left for a better life in houses where the concrete corridors were replaced for a traditional house with a garden of their own. The buildings slowly gained a bad reputation and their presence in modern society has begun to be questioned.

Society has changed, the ideas behind tower blocks have become outdated and a different approach to mass residential living is needed. Or perhaps there is no problem, maybe a a building's physical existence has direct correlation to the bad reputation. Maybe 2E's facelift will give the towers the change they have needed. A building's visual appearance overweighs that of it's function with regards to public opinion. Tower blocks used to flourish, so why can't they now?

Hopefully the design will work and become a precedent for all future council's to look at before they jump to demolition. It certainly offers a more sustainable approach to buildings. Why demolish and rebuild, when you can improve what is already there.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Reflective Room

The Courtyard Project is a collaborative project involving The Manchester Museum and 5th Year Architecture students from the Re_Map and Prototype studio units at Manchester School of Architecture.

A competition invited the students to design an environment within the Courtyard space at The Manchester Museum to align with the summer programme and exhibitions. A shortlist of five proposals were selected and developed further, a summary of which will be exhibited at the Museum from March 2010.

The Museum have selected Reflective Room to be taken forward and the project will be constructed in the Courtyard in June 2010. The student design team from the Prototype unit is led by Matthew Mills and will be assisted by unit tutors Nick Tyson and Ming Chung, along with Neil Thomas of Atelier One.

The Reflective Room will be fabricated and assembled by all students involved in the project in collaboration with technical assistance from Manchester Metropolitan University, The University of Manchester and The Manchester Museum.

Follow the progress of the project here:

Monday, 17 May 2010

£1 Billion Manchester City Expansion Proposed

image copyright of Neil Sowerby

Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour plans for a £1 Billion expansion to the current stadium. The plans look to incorporate new leisure facilities whilst a new training facility will also be included. It is believed that New York based Rafael Vinoly has been appointed as the chief architect, however early reports suggested that Manchester based BDP are also involved, as to what level it is unknown.
image copyright to Emily Zoladz | The Grand Rapids Press
Perhaps the most intriguing part to this development is that the development will be connected to the current regeneration of Ancoats next door. Now known as New Islington the area has rapidly grown in the past decade, however there are still a vast amount of vacant properties, around 14%. This news may boost the desirability of the area, and draw in the much needed occupants.

No designs have been revealed and are unlikely to for sometime, but the once chosen site for a super casino may now get it's americanised leisure complex it once lost out on. However it's acceptance by the public is yet to be heard, and an interesting debate will surely unfold in the coming months, and indeed years.