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Part 2 Project 2000
Mike Dring
Manchester School of Architecture, UK
Name: Mike Dring
School: Manchester School of Architecture, UK
Level: b(arch)
Project: LO-MART, East Manchester, UK

The city has been superseded by an increasingly superficial, homogeneous hinterland of sprawl. The urban mass has little use for space/place, instead conditioned by the object/image. The laissez-faire approach to urban expansion has designated a new context; not in the authentic and specific, but in the private and universal, dominated by the supranational "device". This "device architecture" should not be undervalued. Spaces of demonstration are no longer public squares but the forecourts and HQs of global institutions. Moreover, the ability of these generic structures to invoke specific feeling states related to leisure and hence spending, is immense.

Buffer zones to major infrastructural networks tend to form the context for this architecture, often at the expense of any remaining local domain. This crude juxtaposition informed the ‘Yellow Duckie' and ‘IKEA' response, which explore the contradiction between local production (both products were purchased locally) and supranational marketing.

LO-MART explores the polarity between LOCAL/GLOBAL space and CRAFT/PRODUCT, exploiting its role as mediator. A tripartite system of ‘PRODUCE, PROMOTE, PURCHASE' forms the basis for a multitude of individual or collective programmes assisted by the transformative device which bridges from container-land to the Esso filling station (a common typology) which forms the interface between product and consumer. Contained within this are open ateliers and IT studios to assist in the essential transition of craft to product. The aim is to instigate supply and demand, not only for products but for their site of production, for without the realities of market forces there is little hope of competing in such a capitalist environment.

Mike Dring

Mike Dring
The Landscape Channel
Landscape and Urbanism College

The work of the Landscape and Urbanism Units at Manchester concentrates on exploring peripheral conditions within the urban fabric, understanding the contemporary city as a dynamic physical and organic entity. Urban issues related to the development of global culture and their intersection with the local and particular, inform architectural strategies and tactics. The programme is concerned with the interaction of form and process; process to bring about environmental change; form as a response to functional requirements. The urban peripheral condition can be seen as a complex system of disconnected structures, destroying any remaining coherence. The unit methodology recognises intuitive and analytical responses to context, exploring issues of time, scale, materiality and the relationship between intent and form.

Mike Dring's work concentrates on facilitating latent possibilites within the situation of the urban periphery, exploring the tension between globalised conditions such as infrastructure and mass marketing, and conditions specific to location, i.e. glocal. Following analysis of East Manchester the scheme was located in Gorton. Analysis was developed from a fusion of existing recognised criteria e.g. CCP423 and methods developed from fine art precedents. A series of experiments and approaches were taken to relocate certain locally produced or sourced products within a global framework. These ranged from of presenting unaltered products purchased in Gorton within the language of global branding i.e. IKEA's new Gørton range of furniture and the Yellow Duckie and Spotty Dog soft toys to a Manchester wide fly-posting campaign.

lo-MART developed from an intention to strengthen the local productive capacity. The scheme promotes manufacture in the form of a production field populated by workshop units. This links with a training/skills building and a 24-hour petrol station that acts as a distribution interface. The design approach is characterised by a laconic coolness. This emphasises the areas of definition such as the training building whilst letting other programmatic elements the messiness necessary for their correct functioning. Planning is excellently controlled and appropriate for the nature of the scheme, synthesising the contradictory nature of the urban fabric with the finished quality of the crafted object. The architecture that emerges in the scheme is a sophisticated, critical and witty response to the glocal conditions that predominate in large areas of our cities.

Tom Jefferies
BArch Unit Leader
0161 247 6957

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