manchester modernist society

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Manchester Modernist Society unilaterally designate Conservation Area Status to the former UMIST Campus

In architecture, news on June 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm

On the 24th of June 2012 we, the Manchester Modernist Society unilaterally designate Conservation Area Status to the former UMIST Campus.

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and here’s the Degree, awarded on Campus Day to our newly graduated Bachelors, Masters and Doctors of Modernism

 

Degree certificate designed by Jonathan Hitchen

 

© the modernist society 2012

 

The CAMPUS buildings

In architecture, uncategorized on June 25, 2012 at 6:50 pm
  1. CHANDOS HALL, W A GIBBON OF CRUICKSHANK & SEWARD, 1962-4

Designed for 160 students with study beds and common room with kitchen on each floor, this 15 floor hall of residence was a prototype for student living. The top floor housed a warden’s residence, roof terrace and a communal room for parties…how modern!

  1. RENOLD BUILDING, W A GIBBON OF CRUICKSHANK & SEWARD, 1962

Strikingly beautiful with its distinctive concertina wall and the 1968 Victor Pasmore mural Metamorphosis running the length of the lower level of the grand duplex entrance, a 6 storey tower on 2 storey base, cleverly incorporating mixed lecture theatres including one for 500, 2 for 300, 6 for 140, and 12 smaller ones. The potential crush of so many students leaving and entering for hourly lectures ameliorated by multi entrances, vast staircase and double height hallway.

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  1. BARNES WALLIS BUILDING/WRIGHT ROBINSON HALL, W A GIBBON OF CRUICKSHANK & SEWARD 1963-6

Podium with 15 floor tower of residence behind, unusual in that the two parts of the building have different names and different uses, despite the fact that the building is a single structure, purpose built by a single architect – the union is on free standing columns to give a fluted effect like the Renold building.

Barnes Wallis section housed the main campus refectory (closed June 2009), and until 2004 was also home to UMIST Students’ Association.

The naming of internal parts of the building was for many years a good indicator of the current political balance of the UMIST Student Union – the Large Assembly Hall was at times called the Lenin Assembly Hall. Conversely, the Small Assembly Hall was at other times named the Sharansky Assembly Hall, after Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky.

The Renold Building, and the Barnes Wallis Building, originally faced each other across a bowling green, which later became a landscaped garden. For this reason a bar in the Renold Building was originally named the Bowling Green Tavern.

  1. STAFF HOUSE, THOMAS WORTHINGTON, 1960, EXTENDED 1968 slotted in behind former retained mill buildings

Not part of the Gibbon masterplan but constructed earlier by Hubert Worthington of the Manchester firm Thomas Worthington. Suitably sober for UMIST’s chief bigwigs and boffinhood.

  1. CHEMICAL ENGINEERING PILOT PLANT, H M FAIRHURST OF HARRY S FAIRHURST & SON, 1966

Another bespoke and ingenious design, with its innovative use of brick and glass. The open plan glass half for students to erect their own large scale experimental rigs. Exposed cooling pipes on the roof adds to its credentials as a precursor to later international ‘Pop’ architecture, such as Paris’ Pompidou centre – how cool!

  1. HOLLOWAY WALL

A bit of an MMS obsession – 1968 buffer wonder-wall, sculpture and engineering construction! Prefabricated textured panels slotted into concrete columns and an experimental collaboration between the architect Fairhurst and artist Holloway who later worked together on stained glass at Manchester Cathedral.

  1. MATHEMATICS & SOCIAL SCIENCES, W A GIBBON OF CRUICKSHANK & SEWARD, 1966-8.

The highest building on Campus, a 15 storey tower, its twin circulation towers extending above the main roof levels, creating an even taller impression, is a powerful landmark sweeping along the Mancunian Way. It is flanked by a windowless lecture block also in UMIST’S trademark white reinforced concrete. A Brutalist delight.

The building was used largely for staff offices, with some teaching rooms. The 10th to 14th floors (called floors M-Q) accommodated the Department of Mathematics.

  1. FERRANTI BUILDING, W A GIBBON OF CRUICKSHANK & SEWARD, 1968

Low reinforced concrete box for electrical engineering/ High Voltage Laboratories, acoustically designed to shut out traffic from the motorway yet low enough to allow sunlight to the lawns beyond. Stark yet elegant.

  1. PARISER BUILDING, H M FAIRHURST OF HARRY S FAIRHURST & SON, 1963

Classical, reserved modernism in brick and copper cladding, typical of the firm’s stoical style, mirrored in the Victoria University’s own post-war Brunswick St science campus. The low 3 storey building attached to the east is the Hydraulics Lab.

  1. FARADAY BUILDING, H M FAIRHURST OF HARRY S FAIRHURST & SON, 1967

This high slab and 4 storey block ingeniously used the existing topography, and housed its library on the bridge running across Sackville St – the block to the east for undergrads, west for graduates. The abstract patterning adorning the tower walls was designed by Anthony Holloway, whilst in the coffered arcaded entrance nestles the gloriously textured mosaic, the Alchemist’s Elements, by Hans Tisdall, 1967

  1. GEORGE BEGG, FAIRHURSTS, 1974.

For the mechanical engineering department and comprising huge basement labs, upper drawing offices and lecture rooms. To the north was the Paper Science Lab on the front of the road.

  1. The multi-storey car park with the legendary UMIST watering hole the Swinging Sporran, gone but not forgotten –  now the Retro Bar.

 KEY TO INTERESTING SPOTS –

The Godlee Observatory, home to the Manchester Astrological Society, sits in the dome of the original Municipal School of Technology

Vimto Monument, 1992

Technology Arch, 1989

Archimedes, 1990

Generation of Possibilities, 1999

The Bowling Green – the former Campus bowling green between the Renold and Barnes Wallis Buildings is now a landscaped garden

Mural: Metamorphosis,1968

Mechanics Institute Sundial, Renold Building, 1974, replica of the presented to UMIST by Lord Bowden the principal to mark the 150th anniversary of the Institute.

Combustion, 1994, (adjacent Renold Building) by Marshall Hall

The insulator family, 1987

The Alchemist’s Elements, 1967

Hollaway Sculptural Wall, 1968

Concrete Society Award, 1968

a UMIST for everyone

In architecture, background, ideas, society, the buildings, uncategorized on May 28, 2012 at 8:35 am

Talking of public realm and the benefits of campus facilities in the heart of the city, a quick delve into the City Library’s Manchester Room reveals a fascinating glimpse into the wider aims and ambitions behind the planning of the proposed new educational precinct in 1963.

Manchester and Its Regions, A Survey prepared for The British Association, MUP, 1962, includes a chapter entitled The University of the Future written by Vincent Knowles, Registrar of Manchester University from 1952-79.

Knowles was the doyen of all the British universities’ registrars and it was an open secret that the network his former staff had established throughout university administration in the country was known to other registrars as the Manchester Mafia and that Knowles was affectionately known as the Godfather. (A History of the University of Manchester, 1973–1990 English Historical Review (2004) 119(482): 759-761).

In this chapter Knowles talks about the role of universities generally for a ‘new era’. Closer to home he outlines the humble beginnings of the universities, praises all the achievements gained so far for the benefit of the city, its students and its citizens alike, whilst warning against complacency, advocating expansion and improvement as urgent projects in the aftermath of the Second World War.

Knowles sets out the vision for Manchester as a university town par excellence, illustrating the extent to which an educational campus was key to the larger post war reconstruction of the city. The 1945 plan provided the structure for zoning much of central south Manchester along the ribbon of existing institutions and for clearing large acreage from Brunswick to Fallowfield to make an academic campus – 60 acres either side of Oxford Rd, a new area of 18 acres on the west side of Oxford Rd running up to Whitworth Park for the development of halls of residence, and 24 acres for more halls in Fallowfield – ‘town and gown, he says, being drawn together in the interests of both’.

On the responsibility of Parliament and local government to plan and legislate for the future of higher education, he notes, ‘the university of the past was built by visionary men of wealth but those of the future is one where government and parliament now realise, albeit belatedly, that if our precious heritage is to survive it must be supported in far greater measure by the state and thus be able to expand its contribution to the life of the nation’

Interestingly the plan includes provision of courts, lawns and trees, and whilst he acknowledges that more land had since been given over to construction, he hoped that the ideal might be adhered to in the future, ‘as it would benefit not only the life of the university itself but the whole of Manchester, since the enjoyment of campus would not be limited to those residing or working on it’.

Meanwhile for UMIST he predicted that nationally there would be an increased need for more and highly trained technologists, hence the expansion of its campus – ‘the scheme provides for a number of tall buildings arranged to form courts or quads laid out with lawns and trees ad it has been necessary to eliminate 2 loops in the river Medlock by culverts, which is now almost complete. Major buildings completed include the conversion of a former cotton mill for the Dept of Chemical Engineering, a new staff house and lecture room block with large buildings to house the civil engineering division due to be ready in 1963. Further buildings include fibre technology, chemistry, a refectory and student and residential tower. By 1964-5 the scheme will be complete and there will be a need to move across to the area between Sackville St and Upper Brook Street already earmarked for more development.’

This ambition, with its lawns, courts, trees and airy quadrangles, its sports halls,  public galleries and museums, would create  a new public landscape where investment into research and development for the new technological revolution could result in enjoyment and benefits for all. A CAMPUS for everyone…