Modernist Manchester

Posted on by Hannah Waugh

Modernism is a movement in Western society during the late 19th century and the early 20th century. Many factors influenced this, one of these was the rapid growth of cities and development of modern industrial societies, modernism rejected the certainty of Enlightenment thinking. The term often included activities and creations who thought the traditional art, architecture, literature, faith/religion, daily life actives, philosophy and in some cases sciences were becoming out dated/ill fitting and a new social, economical and political environment to emerge in a industrialised world.

Modernism in architecture emerged in the early 20th century and became greatly dominant after WW2, because of the new technologies of construction with materials like glass, steel and reenforced concrete. Manchester is home to some outstanding architecture, and Manchester Modernist Society celebrates the creative architecture and designs of the 20th century in Manchester. Thats exactly what I am going to do, celebrate some of Manchester brilliant modernist architecture.

Brutalism is sometimes classified as its own distinctive subtype, though it is considered a variant of post-war modernism. Despite its apparently appropriate name, Brutalism is derived from the French term, beton brut, which translates as “rough concrete”. It is essentially a style based on the shaped and moulded forms of concrete.

The Toast Rack – Hollings Campus, Wilmslow Road

Manchester Architecture modernist architect structure building landmark city high-rise

The Toast Rack Building

Manchester Architecture modernist architect structure building landmark city high-rise

The Toast Rack Building

The Toast Rack was completed in 1960 as the Domestic Trades College, became part of Manchester Polytechnics then Manchester Metropolitan University until the closure of ‘Hollings Campus’ in 2013. It was designed by Leonard Cecil Howitt, it is known as the Toast Rack because of the fact it looks like one, it reflected its use as a catering college. It is a Grade II listed building and was described as “a memorable building that demonstrates this architects love of structural gymnastics’. 

Piccadilly Plaza, Piccadilly Gardens

Manchester Architecture modernist architect structure building landmark city high-rise piccadilly gardens plaza

Mercure Piccadilly Hotel

Modern offices sandwich tow of Manchester's iconic modernist buildings designed by Covell Mathews and Partners is Piccadilly plaza

Piccadilly plaza

Piccadilly Plaza was originally built by Covell Matthews and partners between 1959 and 1965 but has been recently re-modelled by Leslie Johns Architects in 2001. The Plaza contains the Mercure Piccadilly Hotel  and a tower block with the formally known Sunley Tower, that is now know as City Tower. The hotel is a 56m tall hotel that looks out over the gardens, it is still seen as many Mancunians as an eye sore but has been refurbished in 2008 to make it look more idyllic within the city. 

Turnpike Gallery / Leigh Library, Civic Square 

Manchester Architecture modernist architect structure building landmark city high-rise turnpike gallery mural eight grater manchester

Turnpike Gallery’s wall mural

Brutalist style of Leigh Library

Brutalist style of Leigh Library

Leigh Library was built in 1971, at the time is was common for civic buildings to have a mural and this one has a large concrete mural that was designed by William Mitchell. The arts manager said “You can see aspiration in it, bravery and forward-thinking at a hard time for the town…People are astonished when they find out there is a mural on the front by the same artist who designed the doors for Liverpool Catholic Cathedral.”

Turnpike Centre opened on 3 November 1971 as the new Library and Arts Centre for Leigh. It was designed by local company J C Prestwich and Sons architects, who had also designed the Town Hall and the previous library. The building could disappear if plans to upgrade the area take shape.

 

The Renold Building, Altrincham Street

Manchester Architecture modernist architect structure building landmark city high-rise MMU stairs Renold Building

The Renold Building

The Renold Building is a university building in Manchester, it opened in November 1962 as a major extension for the campus. The architect was W. A.Gibbon from the Cruikshank and Steward firm, the foundation stone was laid two year before the open year and was laid by Sit Charles Renold; whom the building was named after. The building is made of concrete and has a two storey base that supports a six storey tower. 

Lancastrian Hall & Central Library, Swinton

Lancastrian hall building architecture mordents salford modernist

The Lancastrian Hall

The building was built in the 1970s and stands in Swinton Square, the building is arguably one of the most distinctive ones in Swinton with its concrete slabs and pebbledash effect. The building is one of many libraries that overlook the A6.

City Tower, Piccadilly Gardens

Manchester Architecture modernist architect structure building landmark city high-rise piccadilly gardens plaza city tower radio skyscraper

City Tower building exterior artwork

Manchester Architecture modernist architect structure building landmark city high-rise piccadilly gardens plaza city tower radio skyscraper

City Tower building exterior artwork

City Tower is a 30 storey skyscraper that is situated in Piccadilly Gardens. It is one of the highest office spaces in Manchester at 351 ft tall, making it 300ft smaller than Beetham Tower currently Manchesters tallest building, it is presently the fourth tallest . The City Tower building was completed in 1965 and was one of the three buildings to form Piccadilly Plaza, there are retail and leisure units on the bottom floor and on the top is Manchester main radio transmitting station. The developer Bruntwood sold the building in 2014 but have kept their headquarters in the building.

CIS Tower, Miller Street

Manchester Architecture modernist architect structure building landmark city high-rise piccadilly gardens plaza city tower radio skyscraper

CIS Tower

The CIS Tower is an office skyscraper on Miller Street, the construction was completed in 1962 and stands at 387 feet, currently making it the second tallest building in Manchester. It is a Grade II listed building and houses the Co-operative Banking Group. The building remained as original for 40 years, until maintenance issues which required renovations that included covering the facade in solar panels. 

The Williamson Building, Oxford Road

Modernist manchester university williamson building architecture art

Modernist gold artwork badge sculpture on Williamson building at Manchester University

This building is another university building, its a world class research centre for molecular environmental science. The building is named after Professor William Crawford Williamson FRS, the well known victorian scientist who was appointed the first professor of Natural History at Manchester in 1851.

St Marys RC Church, Duke Street, Denton

Modernist design St Mary RC, Duke Street, Denton, Manchester, dalle-de-verre glass Carl Edwards of Whitefriars. Architect: Walter Stirrup & Son 1963

St Mary

St Mary’s church in Denton is a very pretty hidden-gem, tucked away off the main roads

The foundation stone for the present building was lay in by Bishop Beck back in August 1962, he returned to bless and open the church in 1963. The new church was built from the designed of Walter & Sons at a cost of around £60,000. The church is notable for its delle de verre glass by Carl Edwards of Whitefriars on the west window. 

The Renaissance Hotel, Blackfriars Street

Modernist Manchester Primer House housing Renaissance's Hotel by Marriott on Deansgate

The Renaissance Hotel

The Renaissance Hotel and Premier House in Manchester City centre, the Hotel building is 15 floors high and is a classic example of the post war buildings. The site once crossed Deansgate by a concrete bridge, leading to the The Shambles, and like the many modernist buildings around the Shambles this one is unlikely to survive the developers bulldozers. 

The Minute Men SculptureAllerton Building, Salford University

THREE TOTEM SCULPTURES FRONT COURTYARD ALLERTON BUILDING SALFORD UNIVERSITY CAMPUS by William Mitchell -

The Minutemen Sculptures

In front on the Allerton Building at Salford University stand three concrete totem pole sculptures known as The Minute Men, that were designed in 1966 by William Mitchell. Every one of the four faces on each of the three poles has a distinctly different pattern to the other. The Allerton Building opened in 1966 and formed part of the Salford Technical College, it was designed by Manchester based architect practice Halliday Meecham who commissioned Mitchell to make an landscape piece of art to add character to the forecourt that they stand.

The Queen Elizabeth Hall, West Street, Oldham

The Queen Elizabeth Hall is the largest premier events venue in Oldham that is over 15,000 square feet. This can accommodate to weddings, conferences, dinners, meetings, exhibitions and parties. It has distinctive concrete slabs on the front of the building, they range in size and colour.

Manchester is full of many amazing buildings, so which is your favourite?

 

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2 responses to “Modernist Manchester”

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