From June to August 2019, Rochdale Central Library will host an exhibition showing the work of postgraduate students from Manchester School of Architecture working in collaboration with Rochdale Borough Council and Rochdale Development Agency. The exhibition, entitled “Rochdale Reimagined” marks the end of a Masters level project in the town which has seen students create proposals for sites in the Historic England designated Heritage Action Zone of the town centre of Rochdale.
Rochdale town centre has been undergoing extensive regeneration in recent years - the new council offices, new transport infrastructure, including the Metrolink arriving in the town centre, investment into public spaces and re-opening the river together with historic bridges bringing new life to the town. A new market opened recently and more and more independent businesses choose Rochdale for their home base. This regeneration programme is continuing with the Rochdale Riverside centre, leisure and retail development due to be opened in 2020. Despite these significant changes there are parts of the town centre that have continued to decline or face challenges. These include the historic high street and one of the main gateways to the town centre, Drake Street. The area was awarded Heritage Action Zone status in 2017 and this partnership with Historic England aims to bring new life to this area and the wider town centre – and is the focal point for the students’ projects.
Manchester School of Architecture is an innovative collaboration between Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Manchester. The atelier ‘Continuity in Architecture’ runs programmes for the design of new buildings and public spaces in villages, towns and cities. The group’s emphasis is special and particular - on the character of a place and developing architectural and urban solutions that are strongly influenced by the materials, patterns and atmosphere of a settlement. In this way - and in contrast with the mistakes of modern architecture - the group attempts to foster in the next generation of architects the necessary skills to work sensitively with people and places. This academic year, students and staff have been investigating the local area in a bid to better understand the history and nature of the town; a huge body of work is now complete. The sketches, drawings, models and writing are all designed to communicate sometimes radical designs in an accessible and engaging way so that the people of Rochdale can understand and comment on the work.
The work on display in the exhibition is as an extension of a wider research project on Small Settlements undertaken by Continuity in Architecture over recent years in a number of contexts across the North of the country and has seen the publication of a series of academic papers and national exhibitions.
Architectural drawings and scaled model depict over 50 imagined buildings over 5 sites including “In and Around the Railway Station”, “On and Around the Retail Park”, “On and Around Drake Street”, “On and Around Bell Street” and “On the Riverside”.