SWEET(CORN) SUCCESS… Topping out and groundbreaking ceremonies are pretty familiar to most in the property and construction world, and companies are now going to great lengths to make them that bit more memorable. Take BCEGI and Scarborough Group, which this week reached the highest point on the first phase of Salford’s £700m Middlewood Locks. But this wasn’t any ordinary topping out ceremony: those at the top were treated to a rather strange spectacle of property developers and Chinese dignitaries sprinkling sweetcorn, oil, and salt onto a potted plant, apparently a ritual to bring good luck to the future development. With BCEGI set to sign a contract on the second phase of the project – not to mention Scarborough chairman Kevin McCabe planning a 50-storey tower for the development – it sounds like there will be plenty more sweetcorn-pouring to come. Time to buy shares in Green Giant?
DIG THIS… Not to be outdone, Eric Wright Group decided to bring along its largest, and surely most impractical, spade to its groundbreaking ceremony on the 22-home Cotton Square development in Ancoats. The scheme will also restore the Edinburgh Castle pub, which has been derelict for around 15 years. Presumably the giant spade wasn’t left behind by previous contractor Harbur Construction, which entered administration in April this year. The project is due to complete in November 2018, with 75% of the homes already sold.
POO SCIENCE… What can zebra poo tell you? According to a team of scientists from Chester Zoo and the University of Manchester, plenty. The team has been monitoring cape zebras in South Africa and analysing their reaction to climate change and habitat destruction through their droppings. To measure the zebras’ stress levels, scientists have analysed hormones in their droppings, which show how “fight or flight” stress responses are measured in animals. Dr Sue Walker, head of applied science at Chester Zoo, said: “This project is a fantastic example of how we can use these knowledge and skills to also help the conservation of wild animals threatened with extinction.” Probably not an experiment to try at home.
GOING UNDERGROUND… Liverpool’s World War II bunker, Western Approaches, has reopened after a two-month restoration by Big Heritage. The bunker under Exchange Flags, where the Battle of the Atlantic was masterminded, has opened to the public as a museum, with guided tours available six days a week. The initial phase of the relaunch includes a restored underground street, while Big Heritage plans to restore further areas of the bunker in the coming years. Big Heritage founder, Dean Paton, said: “The launch was a wonderful celebration of the team’s hard work for this initial phase, but also, an acknowledgement to the courageous women and men who worked here during WWII.”
HOT FOOTED… For some joggers, the red face and copious sweating is best kept to a running machine in the relative privacy of a gym. However, the data gathered by athletes’ social network Strava shows that millions are pounding the streets across the world. Strava’s latest global heatmap has tracked one billion activities from one million people, so if you’re of a sporty inclination, you can take a broad look at the sports, popular routes, and most attended destinations across the world. Some thoroughfares are clearly hotspots, though once you zoom in it’s obvious that the North West is an absolute web of activity. Try out the interactive heatmap here: https://labs.strava.com/heatmap/#6.04/-120.31749/38.07806/hot/all
GREAT GIFT… Liverpool’s City Historian Steve Binns retired this week, and received a commemorative gift from the council to mark the occasion. But this is a retiree with a difference. Although Binns has led guided tours around the Town Hall and St George’s Hall since 1990, and can give a detailed history of the buildings, he has been blind since birth, and relied on precise knowledge of a building’s positioning, layout and design features when doing his tours. The gift Binns was given was a 3D-printed model of the Jacobean Town Hall which used to stand in Liverpool, created by Arup, which is so detailed he can familiarise himself with the building purely through touch.
GREEN IDEA… Manchester’s first hackathon for climate change, better known as a Climathon, took place last Friday, and focused on getting ideas for the best ways to reduce the city’s risk of flooding by maximising its green infrastructure. The winners were Green Blue Thread, a team of six landscape architects from MMU, who will now work with the Manchester Climate Chance Agency to bid for funding in order to make their ideas a reality at a site in West Gorton. Green Blue proposed using natural solutions to improve drainage, such as building ‘rain gardens’ alongside roads at risk of flooding, and putting vegetation on nearby roofs to absorb more water from the air.
PHOTOMONTAGE… Quays Culture is looking for the people in Greater Manchester to contribute to part of its annual digital light festival, Lightwaves 2017, at Salford Quays from 8 December to 17 December. Collaborating with Blackpool Illuminations, a suspended structure will light up the Quays, portraying 100 faces and places. Quays Culture wants input from across the 10 boroughs, with 10 images from each set to feature. Three digital images of the subject should be sent direct to email@example.com. Deadline is Monday 6 November.