Travel back in time to the swinging sixties at the former campus of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), presently the north campus of the University of Manchester, and see how the architects of the ’60s envisioned the future.
Some cities, like Bath or Edinburgh are special because of their architectural uniformity, and to go against it would be to spoil them. Others, like London and Manchester, are interesting because the old and the new jostle for position in streets. However, there are a few areas of Manchester where one style is dominant. This is true of Ancoats with its industrial heritage (see my other article!), and it is also the case for the University of Manchester’s modernist north campus.
The modernist style is not everyone’s cup of tea. It has fallen out of favour somewhat as of late, leading to demolitions and battles for listed status. It has come to symbolise urban decay and the threat of asbestos inhalation. Though, for me, it brings to mind both a nostalgic time of post-war optimism, and sometimes hilarity at what architects believed the future would look like. Also, we cannot forget that these buildings came from a time when most places were bankrupt after the war.
There is also some interesting modernist artwork and sculptures with an emphasis on science to be found around the campus. The quirky sculptures are entitled ‘Combustion’, ‘The Generation of Possibilities’, and ‘Insulator Family’ respectively.
Lastly, if you don’t mind the steps, the view offered from the top of the Reynold Building reaches across all of central Manchester.