Saturday, May 10, 2008


After the bit of a Fall conference that I managed to catch, and which didn't rank as one of my finest moments of public speaking and writing, I had a wander round Manchester for two hours, a city of which I am wholly ignorant. From this brief acquaintance I noted cleanliness, vaguely European hanging around and civic pride & pomp, and many, many luxury flats, often with derelict red brick buildings next to them. So the only thing on which I feel qualified to comment is the fantastic building you see above - Gateway House, a long, curving block leading off Piccadilly station. It's apparently the work of Colonel Seifert, and if so ranks as one of his oddest and best works, certainly a damn sight better than his tossed-off blocks at Euston. It's also comfortingly shabby, and houses a grease-caff where you can get a palatable all-day breakast for 3 quid. You wouldn't be able to do that in Euston.


Blogger Dan said...

Interestingly, Caroline True Records used that building for the front of the Manicured Noise compilation 'Northern Stories 1978-80'. Post-punk/modernist/Manchester confluence strikes again!

7:36 pm  
Blogger Matthew said...

Yes, this really is one of the better slices of 60s BR spec development. Having arrived in Manchester in 2002 as a wide-eyed MA student, I'm unaware of the previous relationship between Gateway House and the actual station, but I'm inclined to believe that it was harmed by the sub-retail park developers' pap that was instigated as part of the Commonwealth Games lead-up.

12:37 pm  
Anonymous Lang Rabbie said...

The 60s station buildings at Manchester Piccadilly including the reclad tower now stranded in the middle of all the retailing were as mediocre as London Euston, so it is a mystery how Gateway House turned out to be such a good piece of design.

My suspicion is that the the site plot available was dictated by the need to keep the access road open throughout the station redevelopment. This perpetuated the sinuous boundary line (originally designed to skirt several warehouses predating the Victorian station rebuild?) and thus generated the curving form of the building.

11:14 pm  
Blogger owen hatherley said...

Hmm, that'd be interestingly utilitarian. But as I've argued before at length, Seifert could pull out some extraordinary buildings amid all the half-arsed spec...

2:02 pm  
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