KAMPUS is a new neighbourhood located at the former Manchester Metropolitan University campus in the heart of the city. Utilising the qualities of the existing built structures – Victorian brick canal-side warehouses and the 1964 concrete tower – presents the opportunity to develop at the city block scale, creating new connections and a new destination. A melting pot of buildings and spaces, KAMPUS will celebrate the vibrancy and diversity of the city with respect to the historic quality of Canal Street. The architecture expresses the individual building blocks with variations in height to make each facade legible. The alternating positions of accentuated apertures in the facade work to reduce the scale of the brick mass while the light pixel elements add relief and balance to the facades. The buildings are horizontally divided into three distinct elements: a podium with dark profiled metal cladding, a mid-section with rough-textured red brickwork, and a roofscape characterised by Dutch houses also clad in profiled metal. The facade aims to emphasise the concept of three levels and draw attention to the unique character of the existing Tower structure. The new build volumes will be articulated in the same material language, whilst the Tower will have a different treatment celebrating the existing 60’s character. The materiality for the podium, apartments and rooftop village will be treated differently for both the new build and the existing Tower. The scale and articulation of the podium is referenced from surrounding buildings whose podium levels are more decorative, have larger windows and generally have a different materiality or detailing to the rest of the building. However, the contemporary podium brings the public use to ground level making it more accessible and the activity within more transparent. The ground floor will work to strengthen the relationship between the collection of proposed volumes on site. The form will also allow more flexible programming and help to enable the provision of active frontage. Both routes will take pedestrians through the new central public space. It has been important to give hierarchy to the central public space, creating a strong relationship between the proposal and the canal as it is one of the few sites in the city centre with level access to canal. It is also important to focus active frontage here making it a vibrant space. At the centre of the scheme on the ground floor is the public “hidden garden”. This space should be discovered through the narrow passages carved out of the massing and Little David Street. This space will open up becoming a soft, green hidden treasure with a canal waterfront in the surrounding hard urban fabric. The “hidden garden” has a festival like atmosphere with integrated vegetation of wild grasses and flowers. It features terraces for the cafes and restaurants, divided by strips of vegetation and has a strong link to the canal. Light trees give a sense of cover and human scale. The area also provides spaces for small and larger events and becomes a destination accessible from all directions. Linking the site to its urban context is done by creating welcoming green “pocket parks” on the corner of Minshull Street, Aytoun Street, Chorlton Street and Whitworth Street. There is an opportunity to have a similar space on Chorlton Street next to Minshull House. These green spaces form recognizable entrances to the site and the start of new the east/west connections. They invite visitors to find the central “hidden garden”. The private resident’s garden terrace at podium level forms a link between the apartment buildings where residents can meet each other. Colourful flowers and trees form a romantic garden. The timber deck can be used for small events. A pergola forms a visual link between these elements. The resident’s roof gardens look out over the city and the gardens below creating visual links within the scheme. The vegetation has lots of variation in colour and height, forming a small oasis in the city’s heart. From street level this crown of vegetation is visible. A new ecologically valuable habitat, appropriate to the local area, will be created that supports important biodiversity in line with the Government’s planning policies for England and Wales. Policies that relate to conserving and enhancing the natural environment include ‘minimising impacts on biodiversity and providing net gains in biodiversity where possible, contributing to the Government’s commitment to halt the overall decline in biodiversity, including by establishing coherent ecological networks that are more resilient to current and future pressures’. The opening up of the canal side area will both improve migration of species to and from the site and help to establish a new waterside habitat. Retained and introduced mature trees will be maintained and managed as part of the overall scheme strategy and incorporated in the habitat management plan. The urban courtyard, street courtyard and corner park will incorporate rough grasses, large urban trees in grasses and wildflower beds. These areas form part of the ground level ‘green corridor’ which acts as a link between areas of biodiversity, enabling an exchange of individuals between populations, which may help prevent the negative effects of inbreeding and reduced genetic diversity (via genetic drift) that often occur within isolated populations. Roof gardens / terraces within the development contain planters around their edges forming a natural barrier, while pots and crates allow for flowers and small trees on the terraces. Though they do not directly replace ground-based habitats and are not part of a ground level ‘green corridor’, they can be thought of as green ‘stepping stones’ for wildlife, and, if well planned, can cater for a variety of flora and fauna unattainable on traditional roofs.
Mecanoo, officially founded in Delft in 1984 has extensive experience designing and realising exceptional buildings which serve client ambitions while creating vibrant end-user spaces. Each project responds to our philosophy of People, Place and Purpose: to the client’s requirements and the user’s needs (People); the physical context, climate and culture (Place); and the current and predicted potential of a building’s function (Purpose).
The result is unique solutions for each varying situation, in which the disciplines of architecture, urban planning, landscape and interior combine in a non-traditional way. Over the years we have learned that functions inevitably change. Therefore, we must create buildings that are prepared for (un)predictable change.
Preoccupied not by a focus on form, but on process, consultation, context, urban scale and integrated sustainable design strategies, the practice creates culturally significant buildings with a human touch.