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Crafting Brilliance: Manchester Airport Chandeliers Reimagined by Students

In a captivating blend of history, artistry, and community collaboration, students from Manchester School of Architecture (MSA) recently embarked on a transformative journey to reimagine Manchester Airport’s beloved glass chandeliers. Their mission: to infuse the heart of the airport’s new Terminal 2 with Manchester Airport’s iconic chandeliers, aiming to reflect a fresh burst of Northern identity and a profound sense of place.

Manchester School of Architecture Students visit Lazerian workshop and studio to workshop ideas and plans for the new reimagined chandeliers for Terminal 2 in Manchester Airport
A large number, mainly a couple of hundred glass clear balls taken from the original chandeliers that were housed in Manchester Airport
Manchester School of Architecture Students visit Lazerian workshop and studio to workshop ideas and plans for the new reimagined chandeliers for Terminal 2 in Manchester Airport. With a professional cameraman filming the project
A large transparent hexagonal cylinder sat on top of a wooden box. Part of the chandelier reimagined project from Lazerian for Manchester Airport

Exploring Creativity at Lazerian Workshop: A Journey to the Glass Museum

The journey began with a visit to the esteemed Lazerian studio, where students had the opportunity to delve into the intricate world of glasswork under the guidance of renowned sculptor Liam Hopkins. Surrounded by fragments of history from the original chandeliers, the students were immersed in a hands-on exploration of materiality, form, and functionality. The original chandeliers, hand-blown by glass maker Bruno Zanetti at the Venini factory in Murano, Italy, stand as a testament to the historical craftsmanship that the project aimed to honor.

“Lazerian’s dedication to preserving the essence of Manchester’s heritage through their meticulous audit of the original glass pieces was truly inspiring,” remarked one student, highlighting the significance of the studio’s role in the project.

 

A mixture of female and male students from a diverse mix of ethnicity in groups around a table in a workshop studio discussing ideas.
Long tubes of glass pieces that come from the iconic Manchester Chandelier laid across a workshop table
A overhead shot of paper, sketches, a iMac laptop and pens on a workshop table

A Vision Takes Shape: Presentation at Manchester Metropolitan University’s School of Architecture

Days later, the students gathered at the Manchester School of Architecture in Manchester City Centre to present their designs to a distinguished audience. Representatives from Manchester Airport, including Liam Hopkins, members of the MSA faculty, and experts from Manchester Metropolitan University were in attendance, eager to witness the culmination of the students’ creative endeavors. This collaboration highlighted Manchester Metropolitan University’s involvement in the project, particularly in the restoration of one of the original chandeliers at Manchester Airport, showcasing a partnership between the academic institution and the airport.

“The community engagement aspect of this project has been invaluable,” noted Professor Jane Smith, a faculty member at MSA. “The feedback and stories shared by residents and travelers have provided a rich tapestry of inspiration for the students.”

 

Liam Hopkins, designer and artist of Lazeria being filmed and interviewed by a film crew in black
2 male architecture students in a presentation mode mid flow talking about a installation for Manchester Airport
2 architecture students in a presentation mode mid flow talking about a installation for Manchester Airport
A group of architecture students in a presentation mode mid flow talking about a installation for Manchester Airport

Engaging with Community: Gathering Memories and Stories

Throughout the project, community engagement played a vital role in shaping the architecture students’ designs. Feedback forms and community outreach initiatives provided a wealth of information, allowing the students to extract relevant themes and insights for their project. The stories and memories shared by the community served as a source of inspiration, enriching the students’ understanding of Manchester’s cultural landscape.

“The opportunity to hear firsthand accounts of people’s experiences with the chandeliers has been incredibly moving,” reflected Liam Hopkins. “It’s clear that these installations hold a special place in the hearts of many, and guiding this project is both an honour and a stimulating challenge. It’s an honor to be a part of reimagining them for future generations, committed to fostering social impact and community benefit.”

From Concept to Creation: The Public Vote for the Newly Redesigned Departure Hall

Following the presentation, the designs will be carefully reviewed and refined, with input from both the airport representatives, Lazerian and the MSA faculty. Once finalised, the designs will be pitched out to the public, inviting residents of Manchester and travellers alike to vote for their favourite art installation.

With the spirit of democracy guiding the process, the public will cast their votes, each one a testament to the enduring connection between the airport and the community it serves. And as the votes will be tallied, one design will emerge victorious, chosen to be the final installation in the newly redesigned departure hall of Terminal 2—a symbol of Manchester’s rich heritage and vibrant future.

Green glass as part a chandelier. close up of the glass pieces.
A vintage image of the iconic Manchester Airport chandelier in full display
A render of the upcoming terminal 2 airport including a man with luggage and other nearby images include services and facilities located on either side of the manchester airport terminal. In terminal 2 there are passengers shopping and spending money

 

A New Era Begins: Reimagining Manchester Airport’s Iconic Glass Chandeliers

Jill Fraser, the Transformation Programme Delivery Director at Manchester Airport, has played a pivotal role in steering the vision and execution of this ambitious project. With new art installation and the winning design selected, the stage is set for a new era in Manchester Airport’s history. The reimagined glass chandeliers, born from the collective vision of MSA students (who are studying to become Manchester architects) and brought to life by the skilled hands of Liam Hopkins, will soon adorn the departure lounge of Terminal 2—a beacon of creativity, innovation, and Northern pride, featuring a striking honeycomb light installation that has garnered architectural acclaim. This installation will be pivot in the international departure lounge and the whole process (including the upcoming new art installation) has helped Manchester airport grow.

As the project moves forward, it serves as a testament to the power of collaboration and the boundless possibilities that emerge when artistry meets community. And as travellers pass beneath the shimmering glow of the installation in one of the UK’s largest airport, they will not only admire their beauty but also feel the heartbeat of a city woven into every sparkling shard of glass.

The history of the chandeliers is deeply intertwined with the identity of Manchester Airport and the city itself. Installed in Terminal 1 when it first opened in 1962, these magnificent fixtures were designed by architect Stefan Buzas and hand-blown by glassmaker Bruno Zanetti at the Venini factory in Murano, Italy. With 1,300 pieces of crystal between them, the chandeliers quickly became iconic symbols of Manchester’s architectural landscape, evoking a sense of elegance and grandeur for travelers passing through the departure hall at the airport.

Over the years, the iconic glass chandeliers witnessed countless farewells and reunions, becoming woven into the fabric of Manchester’s collective memory. Their removal in 2003 for terminal modernization left a void in the airport’s identity, sparking a desire to revive and reimagine these cherished symbols for future generations to appreciate.

In the students’ designs, several themes emerged as influential factors, including Northern identity, aviation, and materiality. Northern identity, characterized by resilience, diversity, and a strong sense of community, served as a guiding principle for many of the designs, capturing the essence of what it means to be from Manchester. Aviation, with its themes of movement, connection, and exploration, inspired designs that reflected the spirit of travel and adventure inherent in air travel. Materiality played a crucial role in shaping the aesthetic and tactile qualities of both the students’ designs, with students experimenting with various glass techniques and forms to create visually striking and emotionally resonant installations.

As the students continue to refine their designs and prepare for the next phase of the project, they carry with them the legacy of Manchester’s past, the spirit of its present, and the promise of its future. Through their creativity, innovation, and collaborative spirit, they are not only reimagining the chandeliers but also reshaping the narrative of Manchester Airport as a vibrant hub of art, culture, and community

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