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Manchester Charrette: Brief

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The challenge: For this intensive one day exercise, a group of experts were split into teams to think about how they would arrive at City Airport, Manchester

We asked participating architects to concentrate their design skills on PLOT C, a zone area of 1.29ha at the heart of the masterplan by 5Plus. This part of the site has a brook running through it, which opens out into a pond, both of which must be retained. At the moment these natural elements look a little unloved, but they offer a great opportunity to catalyse great design for the wider site.

There are four 30,000m2 office buildings planned for the site. Part of the challenge was to give form to these, and think through the spaces in between them, lending the overall composition a civic quality – tricky in this edge-of-airport setting.

We wanted the teams to think about how you arrive at this site. What is the townscape like? And think too about how the site interacts with the surrounding developments. These plots cannot be changed – they are fixed, as is the road infrastructure. But the architects were free to consider details and tweaks that might enhance the overall feeling of ‘being there’.

To some degree the charrette was also a branding exercise; in essence we were asking for a gateway to the wider development, a front door to Airport City. But fundamentally this charrette was all about vision – it was not a technical exercise. We wanted to see emotional responses to the site, and that’s exactly what we got.

The expert panel

Ruairidh Jackson


Ruairidh Jackson






Ed Lister


Ed Lister
Planit IE 






Michel Mossessian


Michel Mossessian
Mossessian & Partners






Phil Doyle


Phil Doyle
5plus Architects 






Rory Olcayto


Rory Olcayto
The Architects’ Journal


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Readers' comments (1)

  • Constantly amazed at how architects will replicate a college studio environment, crits and all.
    Can you imagine Lawyers doing this?!
    Or Graphic designers for that matter.....

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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