GETTING STACKED… An intriguing vision for Clapham Junction, London’s busiest interchange, was shared this week by architect Hawkins\Brown which could inspire a few ideas for our own stations up North. The practice was commissioned by the Department for Transport in March last year to come up with a masterplan for the area, and has come forward with a radical solution: build on top of the thing. The proposals would see a multi-layered station with Crossrail 2 on the bottom level, an interchange hub featuring buses and transport above, more traditional train platforms another layer on top of this, and a large-scale mixed-use development on top. As Manchester continues to grapple with what to do with Piccadilly, and Liverpool progresses with a £6bn station plan, could this be a bit of food-for-thought for our civic and transport leaders? As someone who used to suffer through a commute from Clapham Junction in a previous life, your author certainly agrees a radical approach is needed.
BUZZIN’ MATE… If you’ve glimpsed the above through the window at Two St Peter’s square in Manchester and have been wondering what exactly it is, then wonder no more: it’s The Hive, an art installation by James Billington. It’s a stainless-steel ‘beehive’ structure, made up of 100 honeycomb hexagons covered in flowers, and is being pitched as a relaxing meeting space where any of the building’s stressed occupants, including the Department for Work & Pensions and EY, can mellow out to the sound of buzzing worker bees. A nice nod to the ubiquitous Manchester Bee.
SHOP TIL YOU DROP… Bad news for a few of the North West’s struggling town centres after an ABC Finance report gave them the dubious honour of being among the worst retail locations in the country. Top of the pile for the region is Stretford in Trafford, not really a surprise given much of its retail is in the process of being knocked down; this is followed by Kirkby in third place, and Liverpool’s Walton Road in sixth. The measure, based on vacancy rates gathered last year, don’t make great reading, but with quite a few of them also pitching for some of the Government’s Future High Street fund, all is not lost. The finance company also polled locals about what would make them visit their high streets more, and a better food offering was the most popular option. Doesn’t sound like a Spoons and a Greggs cut the mustard on their own.
BRAVE NEW WORLD… Better news for the fans of modernism amongst us: the Modernist Society, with operations in Birmingham, Sheffield, Liverpool, and Leeds, is to open a permanent HQ this May in Manchester. The not-for-profit society has secured 58 Port Street in the Northern Quarter as its new home, and will launch a crowdfunding campaign to get the project up and running the coming weeks. It’s intended to house an exhibition space, shop, and a gallery as the society celebrates its 10th birthday. More information can be found here.
MINE’S A PINT… Booze lovers rejoice: Manchester is hosting what’s billed as the UK’s biggest lager festival next week, which gets under way next Thursday at Upper Campfield Market, pictured above. The festival celebrates 50 of the world’s leading lagers from breweries including our very own Cloudwater, Paulaner, Budvar, Norwegian maestros Lervig, and more. There’ll also be beers from the city’s only dedicated lager brewery, Manchester Union, along with the usual street food and entertainment. And never fear: if lager’s not your bag there’s wine, gin, and prosecco on offer. The event starts on Thursday 4 April and runs all weekend, closing on the Sunday: you can find tickets here.