Manchester City Council

Designs on Manchester

Attended a rather grand event last night in London at the headquarters of RIBA. The headline attraction was the Royal Gold Medal winners lecture but I was there as a support act and was delighted to be one of a small number of people to be awarded an Honorary Fellowship. It seems then appropriate to reflect on almost a quarter of a century of quality of design in the built environment being central to Manchester's renaissance as a leading international city.

This is a lot more than iconic buildings or public realm, new or old. Indeed the city's current preoccupation with design starts not in the city centre, but in Hulme, and with the second rebuilding of Hulme, based on a visioning exercise in 1990. The Hulme of the Crescents was badly built, poorly planned, and though beloved by some of our student and ex-student residents, for most people had become a place to escape from. The new Hulme aimed to reverse that and was underpinned by clear design principles, the Guide to Development in Hulme, which ultimately became the basis of a city-wide Guide to Development. Streets that lead somewhere, strong corners, vistas, natural surveillance, buildings proportional to street widths, corners for pedestrians not artics, a clear distinction between public and private space and public space with clearly defined uses, front doors that open onto the street etc.

Of course the new Hulme is not perfect and 24 years on the rebuilding is still not complete but Hulme is now a thriving and growing neighbourhood, not a dying neighbourhood. Through City South, the areas of " retained " stock have now received or are receiving much needed investment and Hulme will not need to face another rebuilding for a very long time.

Although the revival of the city centre has been central to the city's renaissance with an award winning post-bomb master-plan, the restoration of historic buildings like John Rylands, organic growth in areas like the Northern Quarter, brand new quarters like Spinningfield, iconic new buildings like the Civil Justice Centre, new public spaces like Exchange Square, controversial developments like moving the Shambles ( though not controversial anymore ), marmite buildings ( we need marmite buildings ) like the pavilion in Piccadilly Gardens, the example of the importance of design and architecture to Manchester I'm probably most proud of is spread all over the city, and that is our schools programme.

Every High School either new or refurbished to as new standard. A number ( though not enough ) of new Primary Schools. Schools like Irk Valley, Medlock, St. Agnes, the Communications Academy, Grange and many others. Buildings that are not only highly functional, buildings that work, but also buildings that look fantastic. Buildings that send a message of worth to the communities they serve. Buildings that neighbourhoods can take pride in. The primary role of the City Council is working with our communities to make places and good design is part of what makes good places.

There is no response to “ Designs on Manchester”



The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

Recent posts