Manchester City Council is to overhaul the fountains at Exchange Square as it seeks to improve the public’s experience of what was the centrepiece of its post-IRA bomb regeneration.
The council, working with Glossop firm The Fountain Company, is looking to raise the height of the water features within the square, aiming to “overcome hazards and maintenance problems created by the original design while complimenting the existing design, materials and setting”.
In the application to make the changes, submitted by Charmaine Hughes of the council’s public realm directorate and Aidan Watson of the capital programmes directorate, it is stated that “since the fountain was installed pedestrians have used the slate stones as stepping stones which have subsequently become unstable and broken. The water feature has become susceptible to litter and vegetation accumulating between the slate stones.
“The existing wooden boardwalks between the two features don’t provide a durable surface, are in a poor condition and could potential become a trip hazard. The use of corduroy around the water feature could be misleading for a visually impaired person; as it is normally used at the top and bottom of steps or platforms.”
Renowned designer Martha Schwartz Partners was engaged on the original project, a banner scheme for the council. Manchester said that design elements of the original water feature have been retained whenever possible. It said:
- The design will maintain the concept of water moving around the site.
- The existing slate stones will be mapped and their exact location within the water feature documented.
- The refurbished water feature will keep to the existing layout / footprint of the existing water feature.
- The existing chrome water spouts located at one end of the water feature are to be refurbished and reinstalled within their current location.
- The materials used will complement the existing materials of the water feature and surrounding site. · York stone paving, to match the York stone paving surrounding the existing water feature, are to be laid to replace the timber boardwalks.
- Cobble stones, to match the cobbles surrounding the existing water feature, are to be laid adjacent to the new York stone paving.
- Granite stone, to match the granite paving surrounding the existing water feature, are to be installed as the up-stand to the perimeter of the water feature.
- The existing slates within the water feature will be removed from site and the top 100mm cut off. The cut slate will then be set within the new water feature in the same location as the original slate stone.