ID Manchester – My Vision

BACKGROUND

Two years ago Manchester University announced their ambitions for the redevelopment of their old and worn out UMIST site into a new Innovation District: ID Manchester. Their ambition inspired me to create my own interpretation of that vision and how to create a thriving, dynamic and sustainable urban community for generations to-come.

I’m no major developer of the kind the University were looking for, but I’d like to share my vision with you. Perhaps one day you will want something like this to revive a community and bring new vitality to a city near you.

INTRODUCTION

My vision for ID Manchester was to create a living community not a simple collection of modern commercial blocks to stand empty outside office hours. This community has to become a rich and thriving mixed use environment to sustain activity for as long as possible throughout the day, into the night and weekends. It must be a home and a place to come, to work, to live, to visit, to enjoy the view.

PUBLIC GREEN SPACE

At the heart of this ambition was the need to create a viable, spacious, open public space. Manchester city centre lacks any major park space, despite, or because of, all the new developments being squeezed into every nook and cranny. Knowing this I chose to open the current space into a new public park at the centre, which levels off to the adjoining gardens outside the Sackville Buildings. Joining these spaces creates a single continuous park, unlike the concepts published by the University with their cascades of cold concrete steps.

The object here was to increase physical activity on the site and make it a focal point to attract users from surrounding blocks. To increase the public space further I lifted the major structures at one end of the site, opening the vista and pedestrian access straight into the park and the heart of the new site.

LEISURE & ENTERTAINMENT

Anyone familiar with the area will know it’s somewhat of a dead end without major through-traffic pouring out of the nearby Piccadilly railway station and heading in the opposite direction into the city centre. I had to address this and make the site a new attraction.

Lifting the ground level of the park gave me space underneath to enhance the round-the-clock nature of my vision by adding capacity to two night clubs and a small sports and fitness centre, almost large enough for a new Olympic-sized swimming pool for visitors and residents to relax.

In recent years there’ve been concerns about new developments taking over cheaper sites and expelling the leisure community and thriving night life in many cities. Here I planned to counter this trend with the new leisure and entertainment facility. Part of this opens one of the night clubs into a small sound stage and grass arena for selected, calmer, performances, if suitably controlled with lockable gate access when needed. The more aggressive performances will have to remain behind closed doors.

STUDENT VILLAGE

The vitality of the site and its connection to the University is further highlighted in a dramatic fashion by including over six hundred student residences in a unique village. Inspired by Harry Potter this village, The Pottery, is a huddle of Victorian-style homes on top of the larger block replacing everything at the West end of the site. Both a student village and a tourist attraction, the Pottery aims to stimulate the imaginations of everyone who visits and lives there.

Perspective Image of Pottery in ID Manchester

CONCLUSION

My vision for ID Manchester is not the work of a professional architect, nor the kind of high-level agency the University prefer to work with. I come with a background in finance and general design innovation and although I have already identified the means of raising the funds for this project it is never likely to go ahead. My approach to such challenges as ID Manchester is the larger vision of how a thriving and sustainable community might be created, the fine details, technicalities and legalities I leave to specialists.

As for the pussycat and bunny on the roofs. That’s for another time.