Cool Britannia - a city reinvented
Once upon a time the name of Manchester conjured up pictures of the dark side of industrialization. Today it stands for a particularly successful transition into the post-industrial age. What was once a drab, gray, urban sprawl has been transformed into a modern, eminently habitable metropolis that has come to be a role model for cities all over Europe
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Manchester in the process of structural transformation: of city districts and their development
Manchester’s Millennium Quarter shopping area grew up around Exchange Square after several buildings had been badly damaged in an IRA bomb attack in 1996. Turning a bad situation around, the city fathers totally redeveloped the inner-city square and surrounding area. The Triangle Shopping Centre moved into the former Corn Exchange building and the British high-street chain Marks and Spencer opened its then biggest store anywhere in the world. The glass-fronted Urbis Building was completed in 2002 and has served as a forum for exhibitions, discussions and events. It is closed at present but will reopen as the National Football Museum in 2011. One highly visible landmark of the Millennium Quarter is its 60-meter-high Ferris wheel.
Manchester’s glittering new financial quarter, Spinningfields, is currently taking shape west of the city center. The buildings here are the work of star architect Norman Foster, among others. Several banks, consultancies and media companies have already moved into their new offices, while boutiques and other shops are occupying the ground floors. Even the Financial Times was impressed and compared Spinningfields with Canary Wharf and La Défense, the prime office districts of London and Paris, respectively. Doubts about the further development of Spinningfields loomed large during the credit crunch, but the City Council has stepped into the breach and secured its future.
Salford Quays/The Lowry:
Back in 2003, the EU recognized Manchester as the European city that had made the best structural changes. After all, Salford Quays, the old dock area, was one of the first former industrial areas in Great Britain to undergo extensive redevelopment, resulting, in 2000, in The Lowry cultural complex. Behind its glass facade, The Lowry houses two theaters, a number of galleries and also cafés and restaurants.
The Lowry: Pier 8, Salford Quays, Salford, Tel.: +44/(0)843/208 60 01. www.thelowry.com
Modern architecture & the new trendy district
Manchester, which is 64 kilometers from the sea, was only able to become Great Britain’s third largest port in the 20th century thanks to an extensively branched canal system. Today, these inland waterways are spanned by numerous new, boldly curving bridges, among them the Millennium Footbridge over the Manchester Ship Canal, which has connected the Manchester suburbs Salford and Trafford since 2000.
Imperial War Museum North:
Star architect Daniel Libeskind designed the Imperial War Museum North building in Trafford Park. It stands on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal right across from The Lowry, Salford Quay’s cultural complex, and the two are linked by the Millennium Footbridge. The museum is devoted chiefly to documenting the course and effects of both World Wars, but also informs about other armed conflicts of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Imperial War Museum North: The Quays, Trafford Wharf Road, Trafford Park Tel.: +44/(0)161/836 40 00. Opening times: daily 10am-5pm.
Northern Quarter/Soup Kitchen:
Manchester’s Northern Quarter has become something of an alternative “fashionable” district. There are numerous studios, boutiques, galleries and record shops to be explored here in the heart of the city, but the Northern Quarter is also popular these days for its plethora of bars, cafés and restaurants - the Soup Kitchen, for example.
Soup Kitchen: 31-33 Spear Street, Tel. +44/(0)161/236 51 00. Opening times: Mon-Wed 10am-3pm, Thu-Sat 11am-1am, Sun 12 noon-5pm. http://soup-kitchen.co.uk/contact/
Pictures: Zielske/look-foto; Hopkinson/laif; Corbis (2); Warren/Bildagentur Huber, PR