BLUE SKY THINKING… If you thought some of the North West’s high-rise proposals have been getting a bit out of hand, pity the residents of New York, where architects seem to be competing over who can come up with the most mental skyscraper. Oiio Studio is proposing a U-shaped tower called the ‘Big Bend’, making it the longest building in the world. Meanwhile, to get around height restrictions on Earth, Clouds Architecture Office is suggesting developers could suspend skyscrapers from asteroids. And it wasn’t even an April Fool’s Day announcement.
BIRTHDAY… The marketing folk of Transport for Greater Manchester were in full fanfare effect to trumpet the 25th anniversary of the opening of Metrolink on Thursday, with “free” (taxpayers and ticket buyers might question the definition) chocolate handed out on platforms and accompanying press releases celebrating a forthcoming “epic creative music project” featuring 93 performances at Bridgewater Hall – one for each stop. Pity there was no press release or marketing effort to share the statutory evaluation report produced last year under Department for Transport financial accountability rules which showed the tram system carried only half the number of people forecast in 2014/15, as well as being too expensive to lure people off buses, despite £1.5bn of public money being used in the past 10 years to add four lines and 30 miles to the network. The press office said at the time it was too busy promoting the Somme 100 commemorations and 2040 GM transport strategy to do anything with this official report about value for money. Public data showing whether public money has been well spent should be made public, not buried, if you ask us. Happy birthday, we still love you and use you every day at Place but would choose transparency over confectionery any day.
— Our Emmeline (@OurEmmeline) April 4, 2017
PUBLIC ART… A winning design for a statue of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst to be installed in Manchester has been chosen, from a shortlist of six. Hazel Reeves’ sculpture of Pankhurst, entitled ‘Rise up women’, is set to be in place in St Peter’s Square in time for International Women’s Day 2019. There’s no council money expected to support the project, so the Emmeline Pankhurst Statue Campaign is crowdfunding for the £200,000 needed to make it. Dig deep in your pockets, if you want to see a female statue in Manchester other than Queen Victoria: www.womanchesterstatue.org/donate
EN PLEIN AIR… To celebrate its 30th anniversary, architecture practice SimpsonHaugh & Partners commissioned an abstract artist to track the construction of No.1 Spinningfields, the soon-to-be-completed office designed by the studio for Allied London. An exhibition of Colin Taylor’s work will take place from 1 to 21 June at the Contemporary Six gallery, and includes paintings from the ground, as well as those done in a helicopter 1,000 feet above the project.
LIVERPOOL CULTURAL BONANZA…The full line-up has been announced for Liverpool’s popular LightNight on Friday 19 May, where cultural venues open late into the evening and the city sees a range of creative performances. There’ll be more than 100 free events, and 900 artists and performers taking part, at venues such as Tate Liverpool, Everyman Theatre, the Catholic and Anglican Cathedrals, and for the first time, the Daniel Adamson boat at Albert Dock. Check out the full line-up here: www.lightnightliverpool.co.uk
COMMUNITY CONSULTATION METHOD… What’s the best way to get locals engaged in plans for the redevelopment of a large part of their city centre? Get them to make chairs, obviously! Open design studio Plant is being installed in the ground floor of the Redfern building in NOMA, where people can get involved with designing and building items to be installed across the £200m neighbourhood. The first of these projects is 100 chairs to be made by 100 members of the public, which will then be used out in Sadler’s Yard. Cheap labour, or innovative community engagement? The choice is yours.