Competition: New land of opportunity

Richard Hattan

East Manchester’s New Islington is undergoing an exciting period of regeneration. Site Life is giving you a chance to be a part of it, as Urban Splash director of development Richard Hattan explains

As part of Property Week’s ongoing Site Life campaign, to find lively interim uses for vacant sites affected by the downturn in the development cycle, it has teamed up with specialist regeneration developer Urban Splash to launch an exciting competition.

The winner will design and deliver an interim use for a prominent cleared site in Urban Splash’s New Islington development in east Manchester. The temporary use will remain in place for at least one year – the whole of 2011 – while Urban Splash develops other parts of New Islington. This competition represents the chance for an architect, artist or community group – anyone is allowed to enter – to make their mark and turn heads with an eye-catching and useful solution to a stalled site. This is the brief for the competition.

The site

New Islington is a 30 acre regeneration project in Ancoats, Manchester. The area and the city of Manchester have undergone significant regeneration over the past couple of decades and numerous developments have been completed.

The New Islington project, a 10-minute walk from Piccadilly railway station and the city centre, is a key part of the regeneration plan for east Manchester. Originally the site of the failing Cardroom Estate, much work has already been done to transform the area, such as demolitions, the construction of a new park and several new canals. The first few buildings have been completed.

Its history

The Ancoats area of Manchester was well known for its cotton manufacture in the 19th century. Mills, warehouses and associated back-to-back housing covered the entire area. Most of the evidence of this has now disappeared. The neighbouring Ancoats Urban Village maintains and celebrates what is left of the buildings from this period.

The New Islington site was cleared of practically all cotton-related buildings in the 1950s, making way for the Cardroom Estate, which is also now mostly demolished. Only Stubbs, a small factory building used for the manufacture of looms, and the Dispensary, the original hospital building forthe area, remain today. These derelict buildings will be retained, refurbished and brought back to life as part of the scheme.

The resulting site has been completely remodelled with canals and green spaces to create the development platform, from which the new buildings are starting to appear. Most of the original residents from the estate have already been re-housed in social housing schemes on Islington Square, such as Islington Square by FAT and Guest Street by de Metz Forbes Knight.

There are also new residents moving into the area. Alsop’s Chips building now includes more occupied homes than there were on the entire original estate when the project started and the construction of further homes is expected on site this summer.

What’s needed?

New Islington is starting to feel like a proper place. Within the next few months, the final pieces of public realm will be constructed, allowing the public into the park and canal boats into the new water spaces, which will operate as a marina. People can then begin to enjoy New Islington.

However, there is still a lot to do. The scale of regeneration is vast and there are still years of construction ahead because various sites have now been cleared and are waiting for new buildings.

We therefore want to make one of the most prominent cleared sites both visually attractive and interesting for residents and visitors, while it awaits development.

The space

By next spring, the public will be able to enjoy all New Islington’s facilities. Construction work is about to commence on both sides of the site shown in the plan, so by the time these facilities open there will be lots of interest along Old Mill Street, except for the area outlined in red (see map on previous page), which will still be a cleared site with no development programmed on it for two years.

Urban Splash would therefore like to complete this stretch of Old Mill Street with a temporary use – and that is where you come in.

The site is roughly square and measures about 0.7 acres. It is reasonably level and the current surface is clean placed clay, which has self-seeded in recent months.

In future years, the site will be developed with a commercial building along the roadside. To the rear of this building, a public square will be constructed, surrounded by town houses. This development is not programmed for a couple of years, however, so the site would suit an interim use, capable of adding further interest to Old Mill Street.

What can it be?

Urban Splash, together with local stakeholders New East Manchester and the Homes and Communities Agency, are completely open-minded. What we want is a use for the site that will be visually attractive, but not difficult to bring to an end after the temporary period during which it will be in place. The competition is open to all and our hope is that entries will arrive from artists, architects, entrepreneurs and thinkers.

The site is clearly visible from Old Mill Street, which is used by both locals and commuters. It would therefore be good if the temporary use changed through the seasons, so people who have walked, cycled and driven past it many times can continue to experience some surprise and delight from it.

With the appropriate planning, there is no reason why the public cannot be allowed on to the site, if that is the best way to experience your idea.

The site is reasonably close to occupied homes, so please respect this if your plans include the use of sound and light.

Don’t forget that there will be active building sites on either side of the temporary site. There will be noise and dust, so don’t propose anything which is too fragile to cope with it.

Apart from that, the site is all yours – tell us what you would do (see below).

How do I submit my entry?

In conjunction with Property Week, a competition will be held to find the best idea for a temporary use for the site edged red on the map. Entries should comprise up to three PDF files, capable of being reproduced and understood at A3 size. Applicants are also welcome to submit a moving image file of up to three minutes duration to help explain their proposal.

The submissions will then be considered by judges:

The winning entry will be announced in Property Week and work will then begin to transform your idea into reality.

Who delivers the idea?

We are not fussy how the idea becomes reality – you are welcome to roll your sleeves up and deliver it yourself if that works for you. Alternatively, if you have access to appropriate funds, you are welcome to employ others to develop it for you.

The competition is really all about ideas. There is not currently a budget for developing the winning idea, so it may not actually be developed, but we will certainly try to work with you and other parties to find ways to make it happen.

The land can be made available without charge for the whole of 2011, but all other costs would need to be funded in some way. Your submission should therefore include a cost breakdown, explaining how you suggest all parts of your idea should be funded, including installation, staffing if required and removal at the end of the temporary period.

Clearly, we would like to see the winning entry developed, so the judges will be looking closely at how realistic your submission is.

What are the competition deadlines?

Terms and conditions

Those people entering the competition will take their approved concept forward to completion if selected. This will, of course, involve them attending a series of meetings to allow arrangements to be made and by submitting an entry you are agreeing to be available to attend meetings as necessary.

The competition is open to anyone 18 years of age and over. By submitting an entry you will be deemed to have agreed to be bound by these terms and conditions.

The ownership of copyright in the work of all submissions will be in accordance with the Copyright and Patent Act 1988 – that is, copyright rests with the author.

However, we reserve the right to publish such material in whole or in part, or use them in any way we think fit in connection with the site or this competition without the permission of the entrant or payment for such use (but always subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998).

No registration fee exists for this competition. All costs and disbursements incurred by entrants in preparing a submission are the sole responsibility of the entrant.

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