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NEW DEVELOPMENTS are taking shape next to two of Manchester's rivers, but are we respecting our Mancunian ancestors?

NORTHCLIFFE HOUSE on Deansgate was demolished in 2002 and a new glass and steel structure has arisen in its place. The former northern offices and printing works of the Daily Mail was innovative and futuristic in its own day. The American-influenced Art Deco tower thrusts upwards into the sky like rocket. The new building is typical of contemporary design, with its use of glass and steel. The supporting trusses are similar to those used on No 1 Deansgate.

EWM says: I like the older building so you would expect me to dislike the new one. Not so! I think the new building is great, with its innovative use of curves. The roofline curves upwards and the facade curves outwards like the hull of a ship, cutting sideways into Deansgate. I'm not superstitious but I hope they checked with the local Feng Shui practitioner to make sure that sharp edge doesn't radiate negative energy!

THIS APARTMENT COMPLEX on the corner of Trinity Way and Bury New Road is built into the shell of the existing building, retaining the original brickwork, windows and decorations. An additional two floors with metallic exterior and baclonies haave been added to the existing three storey brick building, which is close to the River Irwell and the border with Salford.

EWM says: This apartment building retains the character of the older building adding contemporary design features. The forms, colours and volumes of the old Manchester are maintained even though radical re-use has taken place.

THE GREEN BUILDING is part of the Macintosh Village development just south of Oxford Rd Station. The oval-shaped structure with a south-facing sloping roof is illustrated in the architectural diagram displayed on the perimeter fence. The building has energy-saving features as well as a highly innovative design. As with other developments, this one is built next to water. We are looking from Cambridge St across the culverted River Medlock next to the southern border of the original township of Manchester.

EWM says: A rare example in Manchester of architectural innovation and ecological awareness. By the way, I 'grabbed' the diagram from further up the street and pasted it here so we can compare it with the building under construction.



THE FREE TRADE HALL is one of the most famous buildings, or more exactly, facades in Manchester. This is how the rear of the site looked in mid-October. A new hotel designed by leading Manchester architects Roger Stephenson is under construction to the rear of the historic facade, which will form part of the entrance lobby of the hotel.

EWM says: The Free Trade Hall, like Piccadilly Gardens, was intended for public use only. Its original purpose has been compromised, but was there any alternative? I'm not sure.

NO1 PICCADILLY GARDENS was unveiled during 2003. The red brick structure built on the Portland Street end of the garden from which it takes its name was in autumn 2003 still unoccupied. This part of Piccadilly Gardens was sold by the City of Manchester council to raise money for 'environmental improvements' to Piccadilly. This land was donated by Sir Oswald Mosley in the 18th century on condition it would remain permanently in public use.

EWM says: Not so much the design of the building, but the decision to build here is at fault. Like the Salford University Tower (see Page 4), the building should never have been built here and should be demolished.

THE WESLEYAN CEMETERY in the Crumpsall / Cheetham Hill area of north Manchester, just next to Cheetham Hill Shopping Centre is a scene of eerie emptiness. In a controversial decision, Manchester City Council decided to use the site for a new shopping centre, and ordered the removal of the gravestones and human remains to other cemeteries. A large blue-painted chipboard fence was erected to screen the site from view. The sign says 'No visitors without prior appointment'. There have been complaints that the work of removing the remains wasn't carried out sensitively and the matter is being investigated by the council. In early 2004, the project remains on hold.

EWM says: In other local authority districts and in other countries, this site would have been left well alone. Is it really essential to build on this location? Most people would agree it's important to respect our dead ancestors who lived in the city in past times, and their surviving relatives.

All photos and articles © Aidan O'Rourke

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