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MUDNews Centre St. Peters Field Manchester

Part 2 Project 2002
Russell Bridge
Manchester School of Architecture, UK
"no longer is architecture the art of putting two bricks together, as Mies van der Rohe once suggested, instead, it has become the art of arranging two bits, or qubits, together." Karl S Chu, Metaxy

Wherever ‘the virtual’ is accessed is the place for ‘digital architecture’. Digital architecture is not about using random algorithms to generate form, structure or space but is about allowing virtual access points to make positive contributions to their locales, from environmental control strategies to public space activation.

The thesis project, mudnews, continues theories examined in the dissertation of so called intelligent houses and offices - often a layering of soft ‘digital’ technologies onto dumb hard ‘manufacturing’ technologies – and explores the possibilities of infusing the digital technology with an active environmental ‘biomass’ to create truly intelligent buildings.

The project sites the offices of an online news forum in a mixed use building on Windmill St in Manchester, formerly St Peters Fields, which in the 19th century was Manchester’s primary space for public meetings and protest and in 1819 site of the Peterloo Massacre. The proposition re-activates the site externally with opinion-input stations and four storey high displays in the landscaped public piazza. A mobile worker café at ground floor level creates a 24hr rooted access point for a mobile workforce whilst above the repeating three floor pattern of office and accommodation, interspersed with shared utility and landscaped space, gives the building a social and environmental advantage as 24hr occupancy allows a constant thermal mass avoiding costly re-heats. The building uses active-passive strategies, such as thermal storage tanks, a venture effect wind passage and active facades to modify the internal environment. These are all controlled by an intelligent central brain, which achieves the goal of allowing the building to be operated by its users as if using passive fuels whilst using minimal energy.

Russell Bridge

This is a bioclimatic democracy machine: The centre of British democracy is not in London, where puffed-up parrots pretend-debate, but on the site of this building, where in 1819, a people’s movement for globalisation was crushed with ultimate force in what has become known as the Peterloo massacre. Appropriate then, that a new democracy of the global internet should rise from the site.

Here is a new democracy where broadcast of opinion and fact travels worldwide by electronic means, and national boundaries mean nothing and trade is free; this is Mudnews – multiuser digital news production where democracy prevails – make your own news!

The building that houses it, soars above the public ground floor foyer. It is in two parts; a service core and a virtual sail ship whose bioclimatic modular sail houses the accommodation for a new wave of journalists. The building rotates in the wind widening and compressing the atrium to induce cooling ventilation into the building by the venturi effect. Russell’s (and his tutor’s!) mechanical engineering background is revealed in a novel modular adaptive façade that collects solar energy for support of the virtual environment; and collects spare solar energy to heat the building in the miserable winter of the Rainy City via a seasonal store (which also provides support for the stair). The building is its own power plant and owns its own means of production – essential for any revolutionary party to make its own propaganda.

See you on the barricade.

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