The British always talk about the weather. This year it has been rain, rain, and yes more rain. Arriving at Manchester with the sun was a wow and not just because it finally decided to show up – Manchester is a great city.
The British Council of Offices’ central theme for this year was ‘The Phoenix Effect: Regeneration, reinvention and results’. Manchester is a good example of how a city can be reborn – in their case rising from the IRA ashes.
Manchester reminds me in many ways of the buzz and feel of downtown San Francisco, from trams to transvestites; Urban Splash and city beaches (my favourite space that I came across). It also has those magical ingredients of handsome civic buildings, faded but elegant warehousing and magnificent industrial architecture. It is this mix that forms the reef around which the cafe and bar culture flourishes. Where the creative mix began, so commerce followed and Manchester today is a very vibrant city.
The result is inward investment, with icons such as The BBC, Google and The Co-op electing to locate there. Many of these household names have moved into newly created districts like Media City and Spinningfields. Other developments in the Northern Quarter have complemented and added to the overall heritage of the city; BDP’s own office is a very good example of this iterative process.
I missed out on the tour of NOMA, the soon to be finished Co-operative group headquarters designed by 3D Reid, still, always a good excuse to visit Manchester again – and you never know, the sun may once again decide to come with me!