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Community co-working centre

Part 1 Project 2013
Jennifer Sewart
Manchester School of Architecture, UK
In 2011 MediaCity was planted in the tired wasteland of Salford docks. A Salford in the midst of an identity crisis. A Salford empty of place and losing people. A Salford divided, physically and economically. Could MediaCity be the catalyst to forming a new, creative Salford: connected, thriving and buzzing? Central to this transformation are the opportunities presented by changes in working practices. This project explores the integration of the new, digital and hightech with the existing and hand-made whilst maintaining people and place at its centre.

Co-working is a development of working from home where a neighbourhood building provides flexible workspace, shared equipment, social interaction and the possibility of casual collaboration. Run as a not-for-profit co-operative, workers are able to democratically develop the building and equipment to their needs and incorporate charitable features such as local apprenticeships, training etc.

The Chapel Street project includes complimentary childcare and acts as a central node for a suggested Creative Forum which would combine the strengths of MediaCity, local universities and businesses in these industries. A focus on creative work (e.g. 3D design) aims to overcome some of the issues faced by the local workforce in terms of job mechanisation and globalisation, turning these to their advantage (e.g. through bespoke 3D printing for a worldwide customer base).

The history and continuity of the area is key. The site is considered in constant evolution, retaining and renewing useful buildings, small manufacturing and “bottom up” organisation, referencing the Cold War “Guardian Exchange” tunnel which ends on the site, and providing dual spaces which adapt to need.

The building forms take inspiration from primitive dwelling-houses. They grow between and around the existing buildings as programme demands, creating interesting alley-like spaces and reinforcing the idea of the co-working centre as a home-from-home, with simple found-object style furnishing. The traditional layout of houses/shops fronting the main road with workshops behind, suggests a material palette which also draws from the local area. Throughout, the building is designed to take energy from its environment, reducing running costs and connecting with its surroundings as a natural organism responds to its habitat.

Jennifer Sewart


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