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.

Sunday 24 May 2015

Architecture + Urbanism recommends 'Reprogramming the City: Opportunities for Urban Infrastructure'

In June 2015, ARKDES, the Swedish Architecture and Design Centre, launch Reprogramming the City, a global collection of forward thinking ideas and projects curated by SCOTT BURNHAM that reuse and repurpose existing urban assets to meet the growing needs of cities and people.
From a billboard in Lima, Peru, that has been converted into a humidity collection system to provide clean drinking water for residents, to abandoned subway tunnels in London that have been repurposed as food growing areas, Reprogramming the City reveals the unrealized capabilities of existing urban assets when they are used in new ways.

The exhibition runs at ARKDES in Stockholm from 18 June until 30 August

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."

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