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Salford Central Cultural Exchange, Manchester

Part 1 Project 2002
Ross Bowman
David Artis
University of Nottingham
Interface between two cities

A cultural exchange between the two cities of Manchester and Salford interacts with an existing railway structure which currently exists as a boundary. The potential of the deep plan Victorian brick arches and cast iron colonnade is optimised, much of the accommodation contained within them adopting the flavour of the atmosphere which they have to offer. Crisp, clean boxes cling to the contrasting rugged brick arches to house necessary exhibition structures, storage and amenities.

Three steel clad flexible meeting pods act as repeating sculptural elements within a new urban park, linked back to the railway structure by raised walkways. The separation of these circulation routes from the main activity spaces allows the necessary security for control of access.

Visitors are encouraged to arrive by train; arriving at the platforms of the station on top of the structure they would immediately be aware of activity below by way of glazed light wells which also allows light deep into the railway arches.

A landmark residential tower signifies the event from a distance, sitting up above the resource spaces; the flats affording good views back towards Manchester city centre and maximising solar benefits.

The overall aim is to create a place, or a series of spaces, where exchanges can occur, whether it be an exchange of ideas within one of the numerous flexible meeting / seminar spaces, or perhaps cultural education through a visit to a temporary exhibition, or simply meeting someone in the café-bar.

Ross Bowman
David Artis

Ross shows a remarkable maturity of design thought for a Part 1 student, with an outstanding ability to assemble forms and materials with believable vision. His awareness of space, the ability to extrapolate function and the keen attention to detail – allied with an impressive array of presentation skills - hint at a good architect in the making.

He chose to expand the urban agenda for the major design project of 3rd Year; a Cultural Exchange in the Spinningfields development area of Manchester, by shifting the site to encompass the Victorian brick railway structure of Salford Station. In a desire to break down the barriers which exist between the two cities, he has punched through and reclaimed the structure, creating connectivity; a conceptual bridge spanning dual defunct urban edges.

In inhabiting the structure – the brick arches, the iron colonnade – he creates a unique web of spaces which maximise the positive juxtaposing of new and old. The result? A succession of forms, of spaces, of places that constantly speak of both programme and site; reinforcing ‘exchange’ at every level. The building is a sensitive symbiosis of the industrial historical and the opportunities of today. Though it was perhaps not his main starting point, Ross has achieved what Manchester itself has been striving for over the past decade.

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