A team of alumni from the Manchester School of Architecture is working with the National Trust to turn Manchester’s disused Castlefield Viaduct into an oasis of green.

A team from Twelve Architects, an international architecture firm, has trust as part of a pilot project led by National.

The Twelve Architects project team includes Matt Cartwright, alumni of the Manchester School of Architecture (MSA), one of the founding directors of Twelve Architects, Irina Adams, Raymond Oo and Karan Gandhi.

MSA is a joint school between Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Manchester.

The design concept is to transform the cast iron and steel bridge, which was once used to transport coal in and out of the city, into a beautiful and welcoming green space that is accessible to all.

The design is reminiscent of the New York High Line, designed by James Corner Field Operations, which was also selected earlier this year for the design of London’s new Camden Highline park. Founding Partner and CEO James Corner is a Landscape Design graduate and an Honorary Doctorate from the Manchester Metropolitan.

Matt Cartwright, Founding Director of Twelve Architects, said, “Manchester is an amazing city, as a Manchester Metropolitan University alumnus it is amazing to have the opportunity to reinvent the Castlefield Viaduct.”

During their studies at MSA, the four alumni worked on projects related to the historic viaduct.

Cartwright said, “We have fond memories of our time at Manchester Metropolitan University and the Manchester School of Architecture. It has given us a fantastic foundation in architecture and is a school that Twelve is actively recruiting from. As students we worked on projects around the viaduct and now to work with the National Trust, Manchester City Council and the local community to rethink the uses of this iconic structure and turn it into a green oasis is very special. “

Gandhi added: “As students, we all designed our visions for the future on the historic viaduct. Being part of the team that realizes one of these experiences is an incredible experience. The history of the viaduct has remained hidden and inaccessible to the citizens of Manchester. The project will enable the public to finally experience what the mighty viaduct has to offer. “

With the support of Manchester City Council, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and members of the local community, the National Trust will provide the first phase of the project in the summer of 2022 in the form of a temporary park designed by the team at Twelve Architects.

The public will have the opportunity to visit the park and share their feedback on the plans that are shaping the vision for the second phase of the project: the permanent renovation of the viaduct.

The pilot concept aims to combine the proud industrial heritage of the city with a modern city park concept.

The team worked closely with the National Trust’s landscaping team to develop three unique zones that take visitors on a journey from the viaduct that “is” to the viaduct that “could be”.

Visitors enter the viaduct through a welcome area with a kiosk, food truck, and seating for those waiting for the pre-booked tours.

Similar to curtains in a theater, visitors are presented with a green screen gate, a “living wall” that blocks the view of the viaduct, which opens up and reveals the next striking section of the viaduct.

The second zone “The Viaduct as Existing” offers minimal architectural or landscaping interventions in order to concentrate on the presentation of the existing structure.

In the final zone, visitors are introduced to the viaduct, which could offer a lush garden oasis filled with plants and shrubs contained in red steel planters that tie in with the viaduct’s industrial heritage.

Cartwright said, “Castlefield Viaduct is a popular and integral part of the city’s heritage. In the briefing, we had the task of creating “Moments of Joy” and we wanted to achieve that with the first design ideas. We want to encourage visitors to discover and enjoy this distinctive green space. It should pay homage to the classic industrial structure that has shaped the history of this area while enhancing the current and future vibrancy of Manchester. “

The regenerated viaduct is intended to bring nature closer to the people in the city and serve as a stepping stone to other green spaces and attractions in the south of Manchester.

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