Salford's on metaphorical fire. Lights. Weird chimney thingy-ma-jigs. Dancing fountains. Water vapour like steam or smoke.
After an emotional afternoon trying vodka martinis at the Living Room and en route - albeit a strange route - to the launch of an Annie Lennox photography exhibition in the Lowry Hotel, I stumbled across a surreal interlude.
Salford might live to regret those towers if not the fountains. The fountains are fun. But were the towers necessary at all on this site? Probably not. Will they look good by 2015? Umm.
Here's a video.
Ignore the commentary referring to smoke and steam, that's an example of my stupidity in action. Those bad boys in Health and Safety probably wouldn't allow the use of scalding hot gases in a series of play fountains would they? What you're seeing here is water vapour - very cooling apparently in a heatwave.
It so happened that the fountains and the odd tin towers were being tested for the grand opening - by Christmas - of Greengate Square.
In a canvas shelter nearby were a couple of gents including Mel Chantry, who has designed the steel towers and helped out with the fountain design along with a company called The Fountain Workshop.
As revealed in Sleuth on Friday, Mel Chantry was the chap who designed those now destroyed steel structures that used to be outside the Corn Exchange when it was called the Triangle.
The reason for the towers and the water vapour and the fiery lights at Greengate is sweet if obvious. The site of the square was a bus station from 1930 but had been intensively industrialised before that date.
"For a century or more Salford and Manchester were filled with smoke and fire, that stained the buildings and was visually key to the cities" said Chantry.
"There was also a station (Exchange Station) above the site full of steam trains. The lights and the towers and the water vapour are bringing that back. They represent smoky industrialisation. The towers are similar in inspiration to the chimneys Danny Boyle used in the opening ceremony at the Olympics."
Beacons of industry then. Maybe something like the paintings of Adolphe Valette made visible.
Couple of points on this.
It must be remembered that Boyle's chimneys lasted for about fifteen minutes and then became a Youtube memory. And maybe shiny steel isn't the best material in which to recall smoke blackened industrial Manchester and Salford. A more begrimmed darker material might have worked better.
The result is Salford might live to regret these skin-thin towers if not the fountains. The fountains are fun.
But were the towers necessary at all on this site? Will they look good by 2015? Umm.
Planners and designers should plan for lasting, robust public squares, with features that don't date or need frequently renewing. The sorry lawns at Piccadilly Gardens are a case in point of features that need too much upkeep.
At least Salford has an opportunity to cock-a-snoop at Manchester. If it can make the fountains work efficiently then it will do something its larger neighbour has failed to do for a generation.
The towers are also clearly intended to serve another purpose. They're beacons to announce the space and the eventual changes that will take place all the way west from here to Trinity Way. Until those changes happen their function will be more humble. They'll be a come-hither for sandwich botherers.
The whole public realm at Greengate Square, special effects, stairs and new bridge included, was funded by various public agencies to the tune of £10.2m. The concept was from a Dutch company called Grontmij.
The footbridge was designed by Arup Group.
It is superb.
The bridge has strength and beauty and is already proving popular with the public. Confidential has been criticising its positioning for ages as useless, but we were wrong about the design. The sleek sweep over the River Irwell is lovely. More about this bridge next week.
Finally, there are unseen problems arising from novel square design. When the water vapour effect and fiery red lights from the towers were being tested a week or two ago someone called the Fire Brigade.
Art became an emergency.
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