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OSA creates Manchester boating lake

The Office for Subversive Architecture (OSA) has transformed Manchester’s Piccadilly Basin into a boating lake and artists’ studios

The ‘Atelier Zero’ project – created as part of the Cultural Olympiad – was chosen following a design competition for students from the Manchester School of Architecture and the École Spéciale d‘Architecture, in Paris.

The formerly neglected site features a series of canal-side community huts including a book exchange, a children’s ball pool and a relaxation room.

Open until 2 September, the individual chalets are available to artists free of charge.

Manchester School of Architecture head Tom Jefferies said: ‘The idea of Atelier is to curate urban space, connecting leading edge artists with internationally recognised Schools of Architecture in a project that is a prototype for critical engagement with the city.

‘This is a new model of multidisciplinary practice that directly affects how we use and understand space and place.’

Jane Anderson, the project’s curator added: ‘Atelier [zero] is a worldwide premiere bringing together partnerships for the first time.

‘This contemporary commission aims towards rethinking the way we engage with the urban environment by creating a playful intervention which we hope will inspire visitors to creatively occupy the site.’


Programme, Atelier Zero

The project will be open daily 11am-5pm


Permanent activities include:

On the sporting arena:

  • Basketball
  • Swing ball
  • Football


On the basin:

  • A boating lake comprising of 5 rowing boats and pontoons, available to hire through out the day - visitors to the project will be trained by a member of Atelier staff prior to hiring a boat.


Inside the Olympic Village (curated by Office for Subversive Architecture)

  • A relaxation area - which includes swing hammocks
  • The Library with No Books: meeting hub and book exchange.
  • A children’s ball pool/play zone
  • The Atelier (Zero) office for information
  • A residency hub for artists/residencies and additional activities.
  • A projection space.


Atelier Book Exchange

  • The Library with No Books will be a point of exchange for books


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