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Manchester's Whitworth Art Gallery Named 2015 Museum of the Year

The acclaimed Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, northern England, has been named by the Art Fund as the 2015 Museum of the Year. The project has been hailed by the jury as "one of the great museum achievements of recent years," citing its "transformation – architecturally, curatorially, and as a destination" – as a key reason for its success. The building, which has been received well by critics, was comprehensively restored and extended by MUMA (McInnes Usher McKnight) and re-opened to the public earlier this year. Since then it has seen record-breaking visitor numbers, partly due to the appeal of the building and partly due to "the creativity and originality of its outreach programmes during closure."

HOME Arts Center / Mecanoo + Concrete

  • Architects: Mecanoo, Concrete
  • Location: Manchester, UK
  • Area: 7600.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2015
  • Photographs: Courtesy of Mecanoo

Courtesy of Mecanoo Courtesy of Mecanoo Courtesy of Mecanoo Courtesy of Mecanoo

Norman Foster's Manchester Maggie's Centre Breaks Ground

After being granted planning permission last yearNorman Foster's new Maggie’s Cancer Centre in his hometown of  has broken ground. The project is being built at The Christie, one of Europe’s leading cancer centres and the largest single-site centre in Europe. According to Foster + Partners, the new centre will "provide free practical, emotional and social support for anyone living with cancer as well as their family and friends." Surrounded by the Centre’s existing, lush gardens designed by Dan Pearson, Foster’s proposed structure aims to tap into the therapeutic qualities of nature by engaging the outdoors.

Symposium: Model Making In The Digital Age

An upcoming conference at the University of Manchester will tackle the idea of Model Making In The Digital Age. Based on the premise that the world of architecture is dominated by digital tools today more than ever, from design and manufacturing to the ways in which we visualise complex spaces and structures physically and virtually, this symposium seeks to shed new light on the practice of model making and its uses.

Rowan Moore On MUMA's Extension To Manchester's Whitworth Art Gallery

In an article for The ObserverRowan Moore visits Manchester's Whitworth Art Gallery (1908), a compact museum which has now undergone a comprehensive restoration and extension by MUMA (McInnes Usher McKnight). The practice, who won the job against 130 other bids for the project, worked with a budget of £15million in order to realise an ambitious brief. Their interventions and innovations, many of which are modest and unseen, have not only reconnected the building with its surrounding parkland but also elevated the interior rooms into world-class exhibition spaces. For Moore, their work is striking but muted: "the virtues of the new Whitworth – sustainable, accessible, sensitive, thoughtful – could all be synonyms for 'dull' or at least 'worthy'. But, thanks to its pleasures of light and material, it is not. It is a job very well done."

Centre of Advanced Imaging at University of Queensland / John Wardle Architects + Wilson Architects

© Christopher Frederick-Jones © Christopher Frederick-Jones © Christopher Frederick-Jones © Christopher Frederick-Jones

Does Devolution Hold The Key To Greater Investment In The Built Environment?

The British city of Manchester, often seen as the UK's second city alongside Birmingham, will become the first metropolis outside of London to be given greater local autonomy over budgets and city planning. The devolution deal, which will also see the city receive the right to directly elect a Mayor (in line with large cities in the US, for example), will furnish the city with "a new housing investment fund worth up to £300million." As it is understood that the first Mayor of Greater Manchester will be elected in 2017, there's time to discuss how this new political environment in the UK might help boost building in what has described as a "Northern Powerhouse."

'Departed': An Exploration of 20th Century Modernism

The Modernist is a quarterly journal dedicated to 20th century modernist architecture and design. Published in Manchester - one of the cultural capitals of the North of England - and featuring an esteemed roster of writers and contributors from across the United Kingdom, the journal has been described by James Pallister of the Architects' Journal as, in spite of its subject matter, "free from the strait-laced rigour of classic graphic design modernism." Twelve issues later and the liberal, playfully academic tone of this digestible journal has been maintained in this latest incarnation, Departed.

URBED's Bold Proposal to Reinvigorate the Garden City Movement

British urban design consultancy URBED (Urbanism, Environment, Design) have been announced as the winners of the 2014 Wolfson Economics Prize for their proposal to reenergise the Garden City (GC) movement, first conceived by Sir Ebenezer Howard in 1898. David Rudlin and Nicholas Falk's submission argues that forty cities in England, including Northampton, Norwich, Oxford, Rugby, Reading and Stafford, could benefit from 'GC status'. The award comes in the wake of polling conducted for the prize showing that 68% of the 6,166 Britons polled thought that garden cities would protect more countryside than the alternatives for delivering the housing we need.

Read about URBED's submission, and the fictional town of Uxcester, after the break.

Courtesy of URBED Courtesy of URBED Courtesy of URBED Courtesy of URBED

Sam Jacob & Wouter Vanstiphout on Curating "A Clockwork Jerusalem"

The British Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale takes the large scale projects of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s and explores the "mature flowering of British Modernism at the moment it was at its most socially, politically and architecturally ambitious but also the moment that witnessed its collapse." The exhibition tells the story of how British modernity emerged out of an unlikely combination of interests and how "these modern visions continue to create our physical and imaginative landscapes." To those who know the UK's architectural heritage, this cultural and social history is delivered in a way which feels strangely familiar, whilst uncovering fascinating hidden histories of British modernity that continue to resonate in the 21st century.

We caught up with Sam Jacob, co-founder of FAT Architecture (of which this exhibition is their final project), and Wouter Vanstiphout, partner at Rotterdam-based Crimson Architectural Historians, outside the British Pavilion to discuss the ideas behind, and significance of, A Clockwork Jerusalem.

© James Taylor-Foster
© James Taylor-Foster

How Will Architecture Respond to a "Boom" in UK University Spending?

With the recent news that Dutch practice Mecanoo, along with Penoyre & Prasad, have been selected for a £200 million new engineering campus at the University of ManchesterAmanda Baillieu of BDOnline argues that they "need to set their ambitions a whole lot higher." Alongside's Manchester's announcement, universities in Sheffield, Newcastle and Oxford also recently announced a big investment in their campuses. The trick, Baillieu suggests, will be in ensuring the architecture is not "safe and office-like" (which fits universities’ "business-like" mindset). As we enter a "golden age" in university capital investment, educational architecture will be playing a central role. Read the article in full here.

Mecanoo Selected for New Manchester University Building

Mecanoo has been selected to design the new Engineering campus at the University of Manchester. At a value of £200 million, the project will be the largest ever completed by the Dutch Practice in the UK - slightly larger than the popular Library of Birmingham which they completed last year - and will involve both new build elements and a renovation of the University's Grade-II Listed Oddfellows Hall. The new technology building is part of a larger £1 billion overhaul which the university aims to complete by 2020. You can find out more details at the Architects' Journal.

Norman Foster Wins Planning for Manchester Maggie’s Centre

UPDATE: Foster + Partners have been granted planning permission for The Chirstie. The new Centre is due to open in 2016.

Norman Foster has applied for planning permission for a new Maggie’s Cancer Centre in his hometown of Manchester. Planned to be built at The Christie, one of Europe’s leading cancer centres and the largest single-site centre in Europe, the new Centre intends to “provide free practical, emotional and social support for anyone living with cancer as well as their family and friends.”

“I believe in the power of architecture to lift the spirits and help in the process of therapy,” Foster explains. “Within the Centre, there is a variety of spaces – visitors can gather around a big kitchen table, find a peaceful place to think or they can work with their hands in the greenhouse. Throughout, there is a focus on natural light and contact with the gardens. The timber frame, with its planted lattice helps to dissolve the architecture into the surrounding greenery.”

Contextualism: Dead or Alive?

In a symposium to be held this week at the Manchester School of Architecture, Contextualism: Dead or Alive? will explore the importance of contextualism in contemporary architecture. Five key speakers will be featured, presenting papers discussing context both in its purest theoretical form and how it might be addressed in practice. From debating the significance of building traditions (Jonathan Foyle) to how Mecanoo, who recently completed the Library of Birmingham, have approached contextualism in the UK (Ernst ter Horst), the symposium will endeavor to uncover the ties between architecture and the wider urban realm.

Emirates Old Trafford / BDP

  • Architects: BDP
  • Location: Manchester, UK
  • Main Contractor: Morgan Sindall
  • Area: 32.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: Daniel Hopkinson

©  Daniel Hopkinson ©  Daniel Hopkinson ©  Daniel Hopkinson ©  Daniel Hopkinson

Roger Stephenson: "Using Craft in a Contemporary Way"

Mies. UK recently spoke to Roger Stephenson OBE, Managing Partner at Manchester based stephenson:ISA Studio, about his award winning practice's approach to "using craft in a contemporary way". The office most recently completed an addition to Chetham's School of Music, winning the 2013 RIBA Regional Building of the Year Award, RIBA National Award, and the RIBA Regional Award. This project is the latest in a long list of innovative buildings that are part of a "rigorously coherent, contextually progressive architecture" that has made the practice one of best known regionalist design offices in the UK. 

Read the interview in full, and watch a three minute tour of Chetham's School of Music, after the break.