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Transforming Manchester’s Heart: The Renovation of Piccadilly Gardens and Lazerian’s Artistic Vision

Piccadilly Gardens, an emblematic node in Manchester’s bustling cityscape, is set to undergo a significant transformation. With Lazerian’s creative involvement, this £25 million overhaul promises to reshape not only the physical environment but also the cultural ethos of the area.

For architecture enthusiasts, Manchester locals, and urban designers, the revitalisation of Piccadilly Gardens represents a pivotal moment in the city’s ongoing narrative of innovation and community-centric urban planning.

The Pavilion’s Future: Fusing History and Modernity

In the quest to enhance the city centre gardens, one structure stands as a testament to the complexities of urban redevelopment—the concrete pavilion owned by Legal and General’s Investment Management firm (LGIM). Bound by ownership and commercial interests, the council’s influence on the pavilion’s fate is limited. Yet LGIM’s recent announcement offers a glimpse of hope.

Work started on January 29, and LGIM, in collaboration with Manchester City Council, has initiated a delicate operation to reimagine the pavilion. This includes segmenting the current structure, creating green space, removing the overarching concrete canopy, and integrating state-of-the-art lighting to illuminate its historic contours.

A Synergistic Vision for Urban Renewal

The piccadilly gardens concrete pavilion renovation is conceived as part of a broader strategy to rejuvenate the surrounding space while preserving the area’s historical integrity. With public consultation and planning applications on the horizon, the groundwork for a more communal and engaging Piccadilly Gardens is being laid.

Adding a splash of creativity to this urban canvas, an awe-inspiring art installation is in the works. A collaboration between SpaceInvader Design, Manchester’s own Lazerian, and lighting expert Artin, the installation will transform Piccadilly Gardens and infuse it with a luminescent tribute to the city’s industrial heritage. Slated for completion by June 2024, the piece will echo Manchester’s cotton trade legacy through its intricate metallic and glass fabric, interwoven with radiant LED threads.

Rob Codling, Senior Fund Manager for LGIM, articulates the underlying ambition: transforming this space into a vibrant hub that caters to residents and visitors alike—a locale that truly reflects Manchester’s dynamism and a more positive future.

Reconciling Heritage with Progress

The task at hand is not merely physical restructuring; it is the harmonious integration of a valuable piece of Manchester’s history with the demands of modern urban living. The delicate balance between maintaining revered landmarks and statues, alongside essential urban fixtures like tramlines, demands a nuanced approach.

The council’s design mandate is clear: Piccadilly Gardens must become a multifaceted realm that accommodates the daily foot traffic of tens of thousands while nurturing an environment for leisure, reflection, and communal activities.

'Over the years, Piccadilly Gardens has had mixed feelings from Manchester residents, myself included. Attempting to reinterpret someone else's work can be challenging. Tadao Andos concrete structure has never quite harmonised with the spirit essential for fostering connections between people and place which is a crucial element within the Manchester community. Through a collaborative effort with Artin and Space Invaders, the concept emerged to restore that sense of connectedness with an installation that resonates with both past and present, as well as working on a day and night duality making the area more accessible to the people who use it.' Liam Hopkins- Lazerian

A Communal Canvas for Artistic Expression

Lazerian’s role in this revitalisation signals a commitment to fostering artistic engagement within urban redesign. The slated art installation is more than a mere aesthetic accessory; it represents the permeation of cultural identity into the city’s physical framework. By channeling the essence of Manchester’s storied textile industry, the artwork will weave a narrative that resonates with the soul of the city.

Crafting a New Legacy

As the renaissance of Piccadilly Gardens unfolds, it summons us to re-evaluate the interplay between space, community, and creativity. With Lazerian at the artistic helm, we stand poised to witness the convergence of past and future—a reinvented social arena that celebrates Manchester’s indomitable spirit.

Artin Light are proud to be part of the collaborate team which are making this piece become a reality and are very excited to see the installation come together. There is no doubt for us that the existing Piccadilly Gardens concreate features are in need of an injection in colour, and we believe this vivid installation piece will help give the existing architecture and new lease of life. Using vivid and dynamic coloured light, we believe the installation will dramatically change the perception of the existing area at night, and will create a focal point for Manchester City Centre and our vibrant night time economy and culture. Luke Artingstall- Artin

Envisioning the Future: The Evolution of Piccadilly Gardens

The ambitious and transformative project of renovating Piccadilly Gardens is central to Manchester’s vision for a more vibrant city centre. When the Manchester City Council and Legal & General’s Investment Management firm initiated the Piccadilly Gardens renovation, it meant taking a prominent city centre area and turning it into a nexus of cultural, social, and economic activity. The existing pavilion structure is set for a drastic transformation, poised to become a beacon of modernity, reflecting the city’s evolution while honoring its heritage.

An international design competition, which runs alongside the project, aims to harness global creativity, infusing the Piccadilly Gardens with a green space for Manchester city that captivates and accommodates visitors and residents alike. With the concrete pavilion as one of its focal points, such an important project demands not only aesthetic consideration but also functional and community-focused outcomes. The initial concept designs submitted, integrate with the existing listed monuments to create a world-class space, a welcome sight for the tens of thousands traversing Portland Street and beyond.

Thriving to convert the Piccadilly Gardens into a welcoming public space, the design team—including the renowned Manchester studio lead—is dedicated to reimagining the Gardens as more than just a thoroughfare; the initial concept designs pave the way for a warm, sociable environment that stands against the cold concrete pavilion of the past. Critical issues such as anti-social behaviour are addressed with engaging design elements like interactive flower beds, and plans that purposely deter unwelcoming spaces.

The design team is tasked to produce detailed designs, ensuring Piccadilly Gardens serves as an attractive route for pedestrians—a departure from the divisive concrete wall that once defined the space. In collaboration with LDA Design, a renowned urban design firm, they are drafting the design and access statement, a document that represents a comprehensive vision for a flexible space that adapts to different public uses and improves air quality.

Moreover, the Gardens’ facelift includes an overhaul of the transport hub located on Parker Street, improving the flow and experience for public transport users. The design aligns with Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens’ views, prioritizing public and Manchester people by incorporating space for events and a new art installation, providing a glimpse into Manchester’s soul.

The General’s Investment Management firm represents the commercial interest in the project, ensuring the redevelopment progresses according to financial realities and public expectations. As detailed designs develop on paper, the vision for Piccadilly Gardens surfaces—an expanse meant to not only improve air quality but also to become a vital and welcoming public space.

As the Manchester City Council prepares to oversee the competition panel, the community eagerly anticipates a design that articulates the city deserves. Meanwhile, the routes along Mosley Street and towards the bustling bus station will continue to reflect the city’s dynamism, awaiting the landscape’s rebirth.

Renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando once said that “You cannot simply put something new into a place. You have to absorb what you see around you, what exists on the land, and then use that knowledge along with contemporary thinking to interpret what you see.” This sentiment is embodied in the growth of Piccadilly Gardens as reflected in the design brief, where the promise of Manchester’s future is poised to bloom.