Jonathan Schofield thinks this is going to be a cracking little oasis

There used to a sweet scented brook flowing at the bottom of the Kampus site. It was called Shooter’s Brook. In summer Chinese lanterns would be hung in the fruit trees on its banks and lovers would walk out among them. But that was 250 years ago.

Industry blew all that rural beauty away. Rochdale Canal arrived along with mills, warehouses and the mean dwellings of workers. Shooter’s Brook became clogged with industrial and human effluent and was renamed Shitter’s Brook.

The garden will be there for anyone to use whether you live there or not

Now nature has returned. It's looking a little different from 200 years ago as well. This garden, designed by Exterior Architecture, is decidedly tropical, with ferns and palms. This is a private space that will be for the public good and no doubt do the public good. It sits in the middle of 533 apartments at the Kampus development and will be surrounded by bars and even shops (remember them) accessed by a cute cobbled street between period buildings. 

The garden sits on a filled-in canal arm so the choice of plants seems apt. The developers sharing this space with us are Capital & Centric and HBD.

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Tasteful planting in the secret garden

Adam Higgins, co-founder of Capital & Centric, says: “If you live in a city centre apartment you don’t often have the luxury of a garden. (Our garden) is hidden away at the centre of KAMPUS, so you almost stumble across it, but the garden will be there for anyone to use whether you live there or not.

“We’re not talking about a bit of uninspiring grass that’ll just end up looking tired and drab. We’ve got tree ferns and palms, so it’s got a tropical feel. Even though it’s winter we’ve chosen plants and trees that are lush and green – just imagine how awesome it’s going to look next summer in full bloom.”

Kampus is so called because the site, in one of its previous incarnations, was part of the former Manchester Polytechnic (now Manchester Metropolitan University). It's not called Kampus because it lies over the canal from the Gay Village. 

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The new city centre garden is looking good

A couple of very interesting listed nineteenth century buildings survive on the site among the new build. A 1960s university block has been converted to flats where once Pink Floyd recorded part of their experimental album Ummagumma in 1968. (You might know if from the rather odd noise-song Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict...) It's unclear whether any of those animals will inhabit the Kampus garden, then again there is a canal nearby. A favourite building of ours is the Brutalist old security lodge on stilts. This is the closest Brutalism ever comes to cute. 

The whole development is set to finish in 2020 with people moving in from spring. However, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until 22nd December, the garden will be hosting a Christmas market. Access will be from Chorlton Street. It's free entry, convenient for Piccadilly Station, and everybody including pooches are welcome (Ed: Although why they haven't called it 'Kampus Christmas' we'll never know...) There's more information here.

The more the merrier we say about gardens in new developments. Capital & Centric and HBD are some of the more thoughtful and considered developers and this excellent little space underlines that point.