Manchester has been called the ‘shock city’, where the future arrives early, and this is reflected in some of its buildings. When Urbis was under construction in 2001, I thought its roof would make an ideal launch ramp for UFOs, the ‘spike’ at the front used to moor them, like airships.
The CIS tower was revolutionary in 1962, and since 2004 it has been the UK’s biggest solar project. The newly built One Angel Square across the street has the qualities of an intergalactic spaceship, with a ‘bridge’ at the front. I can imagine it with a curved glass bottom travelling to another galaxy and floating above a lush planet. As a child on the 92 bus, I was astonished by a monolithic new white building next to the Mancunian way.
I didn’t understand the big white letters UMIST at the top; something to do with ‘Interplanetary Space Technlogy’ I thought! There’s a striking similarity between this now disused 1960s building and Manchester’s newest skyscraper, the Student Castle. And at the western end of the Mancunian Way is the ‘lunar pod’, actually a property rental and sales office. I love modern architecture when it’s wacky and fires the imagination, but what I’d like to see most is an observation tower.