The MA Architecture + Urbanism course is the Manchester School of Architecture's taught postgraduate course which conducts research into how global cultural and economic forces influence contemporary cities. The design, functioning and future of urban situations is explored in written, drawn and modelled work which builds on the legacy of twentieth century urban theory and is directed towards the development of sustainable cities.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Architecture + Urbanism recommends 'ESTUDOPREVIO.NET'

Estudo Prévio is a digital journal from Centro de Estudos de Arquitectura, Cidade e Território of the Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa. Its recent edition #FIVE/SIX features papers from the International Symposium PUBLIC SPACE: THE SQUARE IN THE CONTEMPORARY CITY held in Lisbon in January 2012 and organised by Flavio Barbini. The journal may be accessed through ESTUDOPREVIO.NET and includes the following contribution.

Eamonn Canniffe


The subject of this symposium is timely. The periods when the piazza as a type has undergone sustained study as an urban phenomenon, in the latter half of the nineteenth century as exemplified by Sitte, and in the post Second World War period with the development of townscape, were both times of immense transformation in cities, when traditional forms of urbanism and society were under severe pressure. In contrast, the period of reassessment which took place from the mid 1960s to the mid 1990s under the leadership of figures such as Aldo Rossi and the Krier brothers, was one of relative stagnation. In the present time, the urban situation has experienced a dramatic transformation over the last two decades as new development encroached on urban centres, but once again the piazza features as an identifying characteristic of urban quality, a word which might be applied to the most unlikely open areas of hard landscape and ‘space left over after planning’, as if the name itself was a guarantee of sophistication and pleasure.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The morphology of the post-industrial city: the Manchester mill as ‘symbolic form’

Eamonn Canniffe's new refereed journal paper has just been published in THE JOURNAL OF ARCHITECTURE AND URBANISM Volume 39 Issue 1 2015


The contemporary post-industrial city has developed within a system where every square metre of its area might be assessed for its economic productivity and market value. Retail space, leisure space, even public open space, as well as housing and work environments are quantifiable and comparable in financial terms as the ultimate test of their value. This conception of urban space as units of capital has its origins in the industrial development of centres such as Manchester where, largely unencumbered by earlier urban patterns, the idea of the modern city could thrive.

As a ‘shock city’ Manchester, during the peak of its industrial growth in the early nineteenth century was an object of fascination and repulsion to the visitors it attracted. Opinion and rhetoric dominated social economic and political debate but dispassionate spatial analysis was rare. In the view of contemporary authors the town had few significant public spaces, instead being largely comprised of the vast industrial structures that crowded around the roads and canals. The mills were assessed for legal and insurance purposes, however, at a time of rabid competition and the prevalence of industrial accidents. The surveys that have survived provide the first opportunities to assess these examples of new urban space. The image results of a settlement composed of a single type, the mill or warehouse. Ancillary structure, most especially the workers’ housing did not merit recording.

In these products of spatial calculation the Manchester mill can be seen to set the pattern both for the productive spaces of industry and the spatial framework of the contemporary city, where the public space is one of consumption rather than community. The supervised and privatised public space of the contemporary city finds its genius loci in the industrial typology of its commercial origins.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Dalibor Vesely 1934-2015

Late in his career DALIBOR VESELY was Honorary Professorial Fellow at Manchester School of Architecture, during which time he contributed to the MA A+U course. We are therefore saddened to hear of his recent death and as a tribute post below the concluding section of David Leatherbarrow's obituary which has been published in Architectural Research Quarterly and the Journal of Architectural Education.

"When Vesely’s major work, Architecture in an Age of Divided Representation: creativity in the shadow of production was released in 2004, it was announced as a long-awaited book. Its genesis and development were concurrent with the Cambridge teaching and echoed that coupling of the productive and philosophical dimensions of architecture. Many of the book’s key concepts—human situations, the tension between embodiment and articulation, communicative movement, and so on—where equally apposite to project making and historical-philosophical study. It was a well-received book, also widely-read. Vesely was particularly pleased to see it appear in Czech translation.

Among the many awards and honors he received throughout his life a few were personally very significant. In 2005 he was recipient of the Bruno Zevi Book Award granted by the International Committee of Architectural Critics. One year later the Royal Institute of British Architects honored him with the Annie Spink Award for Excellence in Architectural Education. And in 2015 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the R.I.B.A.

Vesely expressed pride in the fact that he was raised in a Catholic country, although he never practiced that religion in his adult years. He once asked this note’s author if he believed in God. Limiting the ensuing pause to no more than a few moments he answered his own question with the observation that a world as rich and beautiful as ours makes one wonder. . . While the subject of transcendence, or what he called primary order, occupied his attention for years and was addressed in a number of his writings, he was no less concerned with secularization. The shelves of books in his large personal library that were dedicated to religion and myth were aligned with those that addressed the history of science and the philosophy of technology."

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Where are they now? At 26 miles and 385 yards!

2012 MA A+U graduate Rajinder Matharu recently successfully completed the Manchester Marathon. Raj was running to raise funds for his friend Josh to help him represent Team GB in wheelchair tennis at Tokyo 2020. You can help support Josh by donating here

Monday, 20 April 2015

Our Friends in the North: University of Bath Urban Design Workshop April 20-24

This week MA A+U welcomes M.Arch students from the University of Bath who are participating in a week long Urban Design Workshop for a site stretching out from the NOMA 53 development site along the Irk Valley in Manchester. They will complete their northern visit with an expedition to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Hepworth, Wakefield and Park Hill, Sheffield.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Architecture + Urbanism recommends 'The Future of NOMA 53'

The Future of NOMA 53

Presentation, walking tour & creative ideas workshop with the NOMA 53 development team

You are invited to join STREET NW to explore one of Manchester's largest city centre regeneration masterplans. The event will include a presentation of the NOMA 53 masterplan vision, an exclusive tour of One Angel Square & the surrounding Co-Operative Hermes Estate, followed by an ideas workshop, where you can help shape the future of NOMA 530.

WHO: Students who are studying in the fields of Planning, Urban Design, Architecture and Landscape Architecture

WHEN & WHERE: 29th April 2015 Meet outside One Angel Square, NOMA At 17.50 for 18.00 start

BOOK: RSVP to Please include your university and course details. Places are limited and allocated on a first come first served basis.

For more info, to join or leave our mailing list please contact:

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Architecture + Urbanism recommends 'Phenomenologies of the City'

Another volume in the Ashgate Studies in Architecture series (edited by Eamonn Canniffe) has recently been published


Edited by Dr Henriette Steiner (University of Copenhagen) and Dr Maximilian Sternberg (University of Cambridge)

This edited volume volume presents a synthetic overview of recent thinking on architecture, the built environment and urban culture that draws on the insights of phenomenology. It gathers an international group of leading scholars, many of them graduates or former members of the Architecture Department in Cambridge, who have explored the relationship of philosophy and architecture in a wide range of historical and geographic contexts. The book focuses on the new perspectives that may be gained from phenomenology specifically in relation to understanding the cultural and ethical challenges of today’s urban environment.

The most well-known publications on architectural phenomenology remain those of a previous generation of scholars who published their works over thirty years ago, such as Christian Norberg Schulz’s Genius Loci (1980), Gaston Bachelard’s La poétique de l’espace (1958) and Steen Eiler Rasmussen’s Experiencing Architecture (1959). The achievement of this first generation of architectural phenomenologists was to bring to the fore the multiplicity of aspects involved in the individual encounter with a particular architectural context, opening the depth of cultural, bodily and imaginary elements. However, these earlier authors have also tended to sanction romanticised preoccupations with individual spiritual experience and personal poetic imagination. As a consequence, phenomenology in architecture has neglected the social and shared aspects of the encounter with the built environment and with the city that are so critical to the discipline of architecture. The focus of this book is therefore exploring how phenomenology can be developed in architectural thinking in relation to the more collective domain of the city, its settings, politics and culture. In this way the essays collected in this book show how architectural thinking transforms phenomenology in order to generate new insights of relevance to ongoing ethical and cultural concerns in architecture and urbanism.

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