TEAMS of students from MMU have been given the opportunity to create designs to improve two “eyesores” on Oxford Road.
16 students were tasked with creating designs for the Mancunian Way bridge at All Saints and the area surrounding Whitworth Park and Art Gallery which would make them more fit for purpose.
An exhibition of the designs is currently on display at Manchester Technology Centre, and feedback from students and the general public is being invited.
The teams, from the School of Architecture and the Geography department, were invited by Corridor Manchester to submit design proposals for the two sites.
They were told that the designs must not only improve the area aesthetically, but also encourage the flow of people into and out of the city, be sustainable and functional and address the social, cultural and practical value of the sites.
Suggestions in the exhibition include the use of tiles which capture and store kinetic energy and turn it into electricity. This would then be used to light an installation which stretches down Oxford Road.
Another design for the Mancunian Way site uses light projections of insects designed by local schoolchildren to engage different generations and encourage thinking about cultural diversity in Manchester.
The third design incorporates “portals” streaming real time images from across the world, addressing Manchester’s cultural links, while the fourth suggests using the space under the bridge as a “destination” area for shopping, sport and culture.
At the Whitworth Park site, three teams of students submitted proposals to fulfil the potential of the park and gallery, including building a piazza outside the gallery and turning the road into a boulevard, enhancing the entrance to the park with a series of temporary sculpture exhibitions and turning the area into “Whitworth Parade”, with a tea garden, seating with WiFi and a square linking the Academy and Contact theatre.
Mark Turner, an MA Architecture and Urbanism student who took part in the project, said: “So much happens on Oxford Road, we were looking for a way to open up that link and connect the city centre to Greater Manchester beyond.”
Another student, Ahlam Sharif, said: “As students we are using the location and know the challenges it presents, which means we have a different view to the other organisations involved.”
Whether the designs make it to reality depends on the judging panel, however the students have already had valuable experience of working in a commercial environment.
Steve Millington, senior lecturer in Geography and Environmental Management, said: “Through the competition, MMU has developed an innovative programme for employer engagement, enabling students to reflect on their work-based skills before being exposed to a commercial environment.
“By getting students to think about the experience and provide an evidence base against real world skills, students engaged in the competition will be better prepared for professional practise after graduation.”
The exhibition was staged by Corridor Manchester, a partnership made up of Manchester Metropolitan University, Bruntwood, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester City Council, The University of Manchester, Arup, Cornerhouse and Manchester Science Park.
The exhibition will be open weekdays, excluding Bank Holidays, until Friday, June 8. Opening hours are 10am to 3pm.
Visitors will be encouraged to fill out feedback cards at the exhibition, giving their views on each design.
Manchester Metropolitan University is a leading university for the professions and a powerful driver of the North West economy.
The University educates and trains large numbers of the region’s legal and business professionals, scientists, engineers, teachers, health workers and creative professionals. It enjoys an excellent reputation for teaching and applied research and is a recognised innovator in partnership working with its local communities. The University is currently investing almost £300 million in its estate and facilities.
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