This thesis project creates a vision for a devolved Northern Parliament to represent Manchester and the North of England within the derelict Medlock Mill located in Manchester. Designed with Celia Brearley we aimed to understand devolution, creating a building that was giving back to the people of Manchester. The focus of the architecture was to create a more accessible and open parliament typology that was different to other parliamentary buildings. 

As part of the Contentious Heritage research strand within Continuity in Architecture Atelier, we began by understanding the ‘contentious’ past of Manchester’s role in the industrial revolution. By understanding Medlock Mill’s layers of history, we determined a new strategy for re-use, giving the building back to the people of Manchester. This was inspired by researching four characters use of the building through different time periods and understanding the transition of power from the building to the people. This concept of power transition determined our idea to transform the building into a parliament for the people of Manchester. 

We adopted a ‘light touch’ strategy inspired by the RIBA’s ‘Retro-First’ campaign, using the buildings existing structure by restoring and repairing much of the existing fabric. We went on to insert key interventions using a single architectural language across the project such as the basement level chamber and the rooftop bar to accommodate the new facilities and create a building that would represent the city. The locating of the chamber within a basement extension creates a visual link between the public and the parliament, where the concept was based around the public realm and tying the building into the existing urban fabric. The success of the scheme comes from the interactions between the proposed new spaces and the existing building as well as the public’s ability to experience the parliament from street level.