I’m currently preparing a new slide show video presenting my choice of the Top 50 most notable modern buildings in Manchester – most notable for being good but I start with a few at the beginning that are not so good.
I’ve been interested in the development of Manchester since I was a child and I’ve been photographing and commenting on the changes in the city since 1996.
I’ve also campaigned against the destruction of heritage, for example Piccadilly Gardens, Library Walk, Ancoats, Bootle Street near Albert Square and other many other locations.
As a photographer interested, among other things, in architecture, I need something interesting, inspiring, maybe historic or perhaps futuristic, to photograph.
For this video, to be presented in English and German – I have chosen fifty buildings big and small, famous and not so famous, mostly good and a few awful.
I started with 30, then I had to increase it to 40, then it went up to 50!
The selection includes some not so fine buildings – I start off with those and progress on to the better ones until at the end, we reach the top 10. I won’t reveal here what they are. You’ll have to wait and watch the video when it’s ready.
But on this page I include a selection of the images that will appear in the video.
Please note, my number one favourite building is one of the buildings on this page!
I decided to make a video about modern buildings as I am a big fan of modern architecture. I’m a big fan of Victorian and other types of architecture too but modern architecture is often neglected and under-valued.
So what makes a good modern building? Uniqueness is undoubtedly a very important factor. It should be innovative, unusual, beautiful, maybe a bit impractical – in a good way. These are the qualities I like.
Unfortunately a lot of the architecture built in modern times is what I call ‘banalitecture’ or as @McrShield calls it ‘blanditecture’.
There is a problem with modern architecture. There is no consensus of what good modern architecture is. People often disagree about contemporary buildings.
Manchester’s Beetham / Hilton tower is a good example. Some people like it, others loathe it. I’m in two minds about it!
Unfortunately not every building can be unique and innovative. But in any city there should at least be a good number of buildings that attract attention, that enhance the cityscape, that demonstrate the ingenuity and imagination of architects and planners, that provide a pleasant, inspiring ‘world’ for people to live in.
I’ve always said that architects are like gods – they create the world we spend most of our lives in – the built world. Unfortunately their designs often fall far short of god-like!
In this selection of fifty buildings I am trying to highlight what I like.
OK, here are a few points:
To draw up the list, I wrote the names of the fifty buildings in a document, printed it out, cut out the names and arranged them on my desk. That’s the best way to arrange items into a list.
I start with a few not so good examples of modern architecture and then I progress to the ones I like.
Sometimes I’ve grouped related buildings together on the list.
The video is going to be presented in English, my native language and German, my first foreign language. I want to reach out to audiences in other parts of the world as well as provide interesting content for language students based here.
All photographs are taken by me, Aidan O’Rourke and date from the mid-90s up to the publication date in 2018.
This video has been showcased in advance on the I Love Manchester website – many thanks to them for featuring my work.
I will continue to highlight the value of architecture and the importance of photographing it.
I also teach people how to use a camera and I’m planning an online course in architectural photography.