Jonathan Schofield on the projects planned and completed across the city
Dramatic new library planned for MMU
When people complain about new Manchester buildings it’s often along the lines they’re boring. That’s not remotely true but even the most sceptical of amateur critics won’t be able to claim dullness for this proposal. Plans are currently under consideration for a new campus library for Manchester Metropolitan University at All Saints and it's a bit 'wow'. It's also going to be a place where ‘the book collection is only one of many services offered so that it gives students a reason to stay on campus and make the most out of their university experience’.
The architects are Hawkins\Brown and Schmidt Hammer Lassen and they’ve designed a building with a tower wrapped with a perforated polka dots scarf. The intention is for the building to be a ‘new gateway to the University’. That'll work well with this behemoth.
It’ll also be a new gateway to the city centre and will inevitably attract criticism and praise given its radical design. The new library will replace the sedate and inoffensive 70s buildings that sit on the site.
Elif Tinaztepe, Principal Partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen, after swallowing the whole dictionary of architectural jargon, has said: “We (want) the building to communicate a generosity of spirit. Spaces of different character and identity (flowing) naturally into one another, inviting the students to explore and curate their own experience on each visit.”
The picture helps illustrate what she’s getting at.
The only caveat might be that wrap: will it have enough heft and weight to ensure it doesn’t look thin and insubstantial? Here’s hoping. Still, it’s reassuring to see this level of ambition at MMU.
Vegetarian Society move gets the pulses going
The Vegetarian Society has moved from its Altrincham mansion to the city centre. Presently in Jactin House in Ancoats it will permanently relocate to Jackson’s Warehouse, off Great Ancoats Street. This is a handsome Grade II listed canal warehouse from 1836 that served the Rochdale Canal. There are plans to incorporate a cookery school along with offices in the 2,800 sq ft space.
The Vegetarian Society was inspired by the charismatic preacher of the Bible Christian Church in Salford with the wonderfully apposite name of William Cowherd. He believed animals were included in God’s love along with Man and persuaded in 1809 a largely poor, working-class population to give up meat. He also persuaded them to give up alcohol which was no doubt much harder since most poor people ate very little meat back then but often drank like fishes.
Cowherd’s disciple was Joseph Brotherton, Salford MP, and all-round good egg as described here. It was Joseph Brotherton who helped found the Vegetarian Society in 1847. It settled on Milk Street (another apt name) in Manchester (close to the present Primark site) before moving to Altrincham.
The Vegetarian Society wants to complete the move by the middle of this year.
Greengate Park and more veggie links
Greengate Park is now open.
This is a splendid pocket park on the site of the very church where the Reverend Cowherd in the story above preached his veggie ways. This is one of those Manchester and Salford parks where you are never alone. There are several thousand dead under the park. Only one grave is marked and that is Cowherd’s.
The green space from Renaker Build is as sharp as a pin and as the planting matures will develop into something very lovely with all its seating and bedding. It will provide welcome breathing space amidst the towers of Greengate. Let's hope the maintenance programme is well-funded.
There’s a video on X below with more detail.
New park in Salford. A crisp, sharp design, small but welcome at Greengate. Veggies please note, there’s grave of grave significance here. @EagleInnSalford #theblackfriarsalford @Renaker_ @cortland_living @mcrconfidential @vegsoc @vegsoc_cookery pic.twitter.com/nXJjL26r3U
— Jonathan Schofield (@JonathSchofield) January 4, 2024
Lovely building reborn for the Malmaison
Another city addition that’s as sharp as a pin is the mysteriously unlisted 1950s building on Princess Street which, latterly, has been crowned in a very elegant manner. The beguilingly simple office block in Portland stone has always been a fine foil for the intricate north western edge of Manchester Town Hall - the corner Town Hall architect Alfred Waterhouse claimed was his favourite part.
The conversion of the ‘50s building to a hotel is now almost complete and is a very fine job. The designs come from Stephenson Hamilton Risley Studio.
Justin Risley told Confidentials.com: “The architectural idea was to imagine the existing the building always had top floors and for the new work to make it seem like its very much one building. We’ve reduced the apparent mass on the top floors with the glass bar and restaurant while elements such as the mullions match those below along with the stone cladding. We hope that thin edge facing the Town Hall is neither lightweight nor awkward but simple and effective.”
That's been achieved and then some. It's a fabulous piece of work.
By the way, the bar and restaurant on the top floor has its own entrance on Clarence Street. This is part of the new build swooping down elegantly and seamlessly from the new top of building. The hotel should open by February.
There’s only one mystery. Why the hell is the name of the hotel going to be Malmaison Deansgate? Why not Malmaison Princess Street or Malmaison Albert Square? Are the marketeers mad?
Victoria Warehouse, Old Trafford, to get a big hat
There are big plans for for Victoria Warehouse at Old Trafford.
In the eastern warehouse there’s going to be an upgrade of the existing hotel with a rooftop addition creating 200 bedrooms. Meanwhile the western warehouse will now become a ‘corporate event space’ for up to 2,000 guests. There will be an upgrade for the central gig space with its 5,400 capacity too.
Oh and here's the unexciting news. The plans also propose the erection of a seven storey multi storey car park (183 spaces).
Up in vapes: Zedwall Hotel to brighten Market Street
Is the Piccashoddy area of Manchester starting to inch towards improvement?
There are good plans down towards the station end of things with the District Bank redevelopment, meanwhile the refurb and extension by AM Alpha of the former Debenham’s building promises to deliver a really high quality reinvention.
Over the road from the latter is a Portland stone building from the 1915. This was most recently a Santander branch but is now one of those utterly ghastly vape shops.
The good news is that it’s being converted into a 187 room Zedwall Hotel. Zedwall is a mini-London chain and this will be the first excursion out of the capital. The architects will be Manchester-based Buttress and the developer is Criterion Capital. This is owned by entrepreneur and philanthropist, Asif Aziz who also owns and operates London Trocadero.
We have the wheel coming full circle here as the site used to host the Royal Hotel. On 17 April 1888 the Football League was founded in the building, the world’s first professional league. Perhaps that sporting landmark will be commemorated in the refurb.
Zedwall Hotels describe themselves as using: ‘a nature-inspired décor with calming colours, natural or recycled materials, and no TVs in cocoon-like rooms to promote deep rest’.
Deep rest? Piccadilly? Cocooning oneself might be difficult in the least relaxing part of town with the most ‘interesting’ Burger King in the world as a neighbour.
The hotel is set to open in early 2026 by which time the main 'garden' part of Piccadilly should have been reworked and improved. Although we've heard that before. About 300 times.
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