Manchester: Disconnected City

SONY DSCRichard Brook

Manchester School of Architecture


The historical evolution of the morphology of the city of Manchester is one which mirrors the conventions of a western European model. The growth of first a market town and then a centre of exchange in a traditionally laissez-faire climate led to a situation wherein radial routes of both road and rail terminated at the edge of the centre and were not designed, or had the capacity, to enable through city traffic. As the city expanded to embrace global trade patterns the lack of connections across the city created significant congestion and limited certain areas of growth and movement. The story of rail related traversal is well explored and includes the unbuilt Picc-Vic tunnel, the introduction of the Metrolink tram system in 1992 and the contemporary project known as the Ordsall Chord. The narrative attached to the realisation of highways infrastructure is less explored. Using predominantly graphic material this presentation aims to begin to understand the fifty-nine year project (1945-2004) to create a ring-road around the city centre and the physical results in urban form and in architectural production associated with this extrapolated process.

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Richard Brook is a Senor Lecturer at the Manchester School of Architecture. His research concerns the exoteric forces that act upon the production of space and form in the city. He is an advisor to the Manchester Modernist Society and has written extensively on post-war architecture in the north-west of England.


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