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Urban [Re]Generator

Part 1 Project 2014
Stefania Tsigkouni
University of Sheffield | UK
Based in Ancoats, Manchester, the scheme proposes a digital fabrication workshop facility for specific spatial interventions; customised by and for the locals, they aim for the revitalization of the district’s streetscape.

Ancoats has suffered from an ongoing process of gentrification, risking its commodification and loss of its industrial character. A response to top-down regeneration plans is that of specific spatial interventions for the enhancement of public space.

With the spread of digital manufacturing, the democratisation of production is realisable: the public can now engage with digital techniques to create bespoke interventions within Manchester’s streetscape, in order to define their built environment.

The area around Dale Street is characterised by a contradiction of solids and voids. This contradiction and the latter’s transformation into a charged void are notions that are explored through the architecture of the building.
The building’s program is to become a machine for the democratisation of production, opposing to the industrial and mass-produced historical background of the city. It is a public space for the production of public space. This will be achieved from both the manufacturing of interventions and from the continuous communication between experts and local agents.

The scheme investigates the relationship of two main elements: solid & void and social interaction. Solid is symbolised through the Materials Library: a CNC fabricated structure where all the materials plug in. The notion of charged void is reflected through the circulation: it is a space for lingering and exchanging ideas as well as a route from the street level to an observatory of urbanity.

The building acts a machine that regenerates itself to generate public space. The façade weathers over time, revealing the structure of the building. This is a response to the mills’ facades that covered the chaos within: in this case, the chaos is revealed. The façade’s panels are fabricated within the workshop and can be replaced when weathered, emphasizing it is a building that repairs itself-before repairing the city.

The proposal, starting from Ancoats, aims to enable and empower bottom-up regeneration, becoming the means for the activation of the untapped potential of cities.

Stefania Tsigkouni


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