One of the reasons we did not have a spring visit in 2014, was that we had a small visit in Manchester in December 2013. It was a serendipitous occasion. The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester was holding an exhibition on New Architecture and Science in Antarctica. Having been to Antarctica and visited the former UK Faraday Research Station, now Vernadsky Research Station, sold by the British Antarctic Survey to the Ukraine for the nominal sum of £1, I was very interested and wondered if other ARCLIB members might not be interested too. With space travel on the map again, (see Foster & Partners Lunar Base, model also exhibited at the RIBA and also plans for NASA mission to Mars & its colonization), extreme architecture on Earth is the nearer opportunity for future space architects to practice, so it is in our brief to be well informed. Also, with Joan Shaw leaving LJMU and Lorraine Richards taking over, it seemed like an excellent opportunity to have another visit not in London, to give the opportunity to more local members in other regions to get together for an experience exchange, which was very well received on a visit a couple of years earlier.
Elaine Cooke at Manchester Metropolitan University, very enthusiastically offered to host the meeting, and with so many new buildings at MMU, including the School of Art and Business School, and a couple of exhibitions being held in the buildings, it was the perfect opportunity for a work meeting. It was an intimate and successful gathering. Elaine proposed as the focus of the experience exchange, the role of roving librarians, a very exciting and of the moment development, brought about by the increased affordability of tablets in university libraries. The conversation continued within the list to involve a larger circle of colleagues.
Between visiting the new buildings and exhibitions at MMU, and ending the day at the MOSI, we also visited the gorgeous Chetham Library, the first public library in the English Speaking world, founded in 1653, were we had a guided tour and were shown some of the treasures. The Ice Lab exhibition was most instructive. Thinking back at the old Faraday Station, and comparing it with the cutting edge designs in the exhibition, it was quite clear that there had been much development in Antarctic Architecture since 1947, when Faraday Station was built. Inevitably, one of the conversations arising from the visit, was about aesthetics, as extreme architecture looks rather alien and functional. Could it look different and more appealing, whatever that might mean? Would we soon start seeing scholarship on the aesthetics of extreme architecture?
At the end of the day, it was a very good forward looking day, experiencing a brand new building conceived for art students, looking at innovative designs created by students, discussing one of the latest modes of delivering student support, looking at how the oldest public library in the land has adapted to serve todays’ users, and a look at the future of architecture and implicitly, our supporting role in making it happen. All in all, not bad for a one day visit. It will be wonderful if Manchester, which has already seen 2 members’ visits in later years, will become perhaps a bi- or tri-annual tradition.
Report by Carla Marchesan.
MMU School of Art http://www.art.mmu.ac.uk/
MMU Business School http://www.business.mmu.ac.uk/
Chetam Library http://www.chethams.org.uk/
MOSI Ice Lab exhibition http://www.mosi.org.uk/whats-on/ice-lab-new-architecture-and-science-in-antarctica.aspx Ice Lab http://www.artscatalyst.org/node/926/
- Delegates visit to MMU School of Art new building Library security system, Chetham’s Library, Manchester