so just why are we banging on about UMIST as a whole rather than only a few specific buildings to be recognised as being of particular architectural merit? here’s why in a nutshell…..
- The campus is important as a symbol of the city’s leading role in C20 technology: electrical and chemical engineering; advanced textile manufacturing; nuclear engineering; and so on. It’s rather like the Ancoats area was to early cotton manufacturing in the 1820s but 80 or 90 years later, reinforced in the post-1945 years when Britain was still a world-leading scientific and engineering country.
- The UMIST campus is almost unique as a contained inner-city example of the post-war expansion of British Universities.
- The handling of the composition of the buildings in the masterplan is a subtle and sophisticated piece of urban design. The effortlessness with which one may move from the Sackville Street building to the Ferranti building belies the complexity of planning and building on a contaminated site with a river and a railway viaduct running through it!
- These are the best buildings of WA Gibbon (of Cruikshank & Seward), an extremely talented architect and reflect his love of concrete and his awards and travels sponsored by the concrete society including a visit to Brazil to meet Oscar Niemeyer.
- The exposed plant equipment on the roof of the Chemical Engineering Pilot plant pre-dates the Pompidou in Paris by four years!
- There are unique works of art by Victor Pasmore, Anthony Hollaway and Hans Tidsall embedded in the fabric of the site and the buildings.
- The open space is as valuable to the city and the composition as the built elements. There are few open green spaces in Manchester city centre especially since Piccadilly Gardens were reconstructed.
- There are no C20 conservation areas in Manchester and this site has magnificent buildings and a unique social and educational story to tell….
**Thanks to Richard Brook, Senior Lecturer at Manchester School of Architecture for his expertise, enthusiasm & erudite summary of UMIST’s unique landscape.