Generating magic in the city

This thesis investigates child-friendly, all-inclusive design proposals in the context of Northern Quarter’s in-between spaces.  The concepts draw on narratives informed by children’s ‘magical thinking‘, CoBrA artists influences and dérive (walking as an urban design tool). The strategy reflects innovative responses to Manchester’s city centre inadequate public space & green infrastructures that are affecting urban childhoods. By employing a humanistic approach to place-making, the aim of the design is to also create a microclimate where flora, fauna and humans can thrive in equal ways in the city- enhancing children’s experience of Northern Quarter, especially in times of pandemic crisis.

Main method used is ‘magical thinking’ generative approach to site context translated into experimental physical model-making; and finally resolved through construction considerations to demonstrate that the spaces “are real places for real people and real things” (Aldo van Eyck). The architecture of the in-between developed encourages imaginative ways of interacting with it, allowing children to create their own stories- ’play’ becoming leitmotiv for the design.

The strategy honours a ‘back to nature’ movement and reflects on its significance to people’s emotions, memory as well as its role in generating magic in the city in relation to built form. The street & play furniture are simple objects, nothing in themselves but designed for everyone to interact freely with them and experience their unique materiality. Born out of 'nothingness', the space comes into 'being' (Martin Buber) when the cohabitations between people, nature and architecture (material) happens- allowing magic to unfold.


‘In-between space’- The street corner situations, leftover land between two buildings, alleyways or any other derelict spaces, “open spaces that fit seamlessly in the urban structure, and are nestled at the transitions between public and private areas“ (Lefaivre)

‘Magical thinking’ - Children’s imaginative thinking gives inanimate objects life, movement, and even feelings