Sunday, December 03, 2006

Apparently Manchester needs more skyscrapers.

Well at least according to the man who earns a living designing them!

I am posting this in response to an article in the Manchester Evening News on 1st December, Beetham Architect wants more skyscrapers.

In the article, Ian Simpson is addressing the critics of his run-of-the-mill glass tower blocks that are appearing on numerous sites in the city centre. He is quoted saying "Manchester must shake-off its Victorian heritage and embrace the skyscraper" and "critics are too concerned about maintaining the city's Victorian appearance at the expense of distinctive architecture".

At least the views and opinions of most visitors and residents have been acknowledged! One comment, the 'Victorian appearance' is distinctive architecture!

My main issue with this article is there seems to be a deliberate blur between "distinctive architechture" and "skyscrapers".

There can be hideous skyscrapers and there can be skyscrapers that are distinctive works of architechture. To state the obvious, there can be distinctive architecture without being tall with many stories. To use the Beetham Tower as an example, I can appreciate the enormous challenge that was met in building it. We've all been there, done that with our Lego as kids. Then we dismantled it and put it away because our Mum wasn't prepared to live with it permanently. Please somebody tell him to take it down now he has completed the challenge. It is a huge, square, all-glass and completely featureless tower. Am I alone in thinking to be distinctive, architecture needs some appreciable unique features?

Simpson seems to be arguing that the only way to achieve modern distinctive architecture is in the form of skyscrapers. Why? The only justification behind this is that property developers are more motivated to invest if they can create more units on a given area of land.

Is that a good reason to embark on a fundamental redesign of the city's appearance as Simpson is arguing?

Maybe if Simpson cut his rates the buildings wouldn't need to be skyscrapers to make the developer a profit!

Chris G

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