As part of the Cultural Olympiad, Manchester’s Piccadilly Basin has been transmogrified into Atelier [zero], an innovative public space run by the Office for Subversive Architecture.
Although its early days have been dogged by an exceptionally wet British summer Atelier [zero] is now in full swing.
The only problem is finding the thing. It's behind Jackson's Warehouse off Tariff Street at Piccadilly Basin.
It's worth seeking out though as this little known corner of the city has been reinvigorated by a collaboration between students from the Manchester School of Architecture and the École Spéciale d‘Architecture.
Atelier [zero] is oriented towards children and adults alike encouraging a reciprocal exchange of ideas in this new inspiring environment.
The 28 handpicked architects, ranging from first to third year students, built the structures themselves battling with the elements to create a vibrant new arena centred around three elements: sport, play and culture. The intention of the project is not only to draw attention to the underused space but to act as a catalyst for further unique projects across Manchester.
The canal has become a boating lake surrounded by pontoons with five rowing boats representing the five Olympic rings available for use by all free of charge. The miniature lake is bordered by community huts which form five idiosyncratic spaces, a homage to the Olympic Village and a fresh twist on the traditional British summerhouse.
Children are invited to enjoy the ball pool, relaxation room, basketball nets and swingball. In addition to these facilities various sports pitches have been mapped out on the ground to accommodate a multitude of games and encourage an active engagement with the urban space.
Atelier [zero] is oriented towards both children and adults encouraging a reciprocal exchange of ideas. Children are exposed to art and literature and adults are infantilised by the oversized sports equipment, ball pond and boating lake.
Currently on show in the huts is Leo Fitzmaurice’s restructuring of the Union Jack ‘Falling Together’, Design by Day’s luminous ‘Peter Saville Said My Name’ print which dominates the chill out room, and Stewart Edmondson’s sculpture ‘Echo Beach’.
The latter is situated in the screening room where anyone can request a screening of their film. From the juxtaposition of pieces spontaneous and unexpected meanings arise which will continue to evolve as site specific residencies, architectural commissions and one-off events appear.
“The Library With No Books” is a public book exchange which aims to promote intellectual as well as sporting interaction within the refurbished area. The room also doubles up as a conference room which forms a hub for debate and, like everything else at Atelier, is open to all.
In the words of Professor Tom Jefferies, Head of Manchester School of Architecture, Atelier [zero] is ‘a prototype for critical engagement with the city’ and an inspired addition to Manchester’s centre.
The Arts Council have awarded their official ‘Inspire’ mark to Atelier [zero] and the exhibition is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 – 5pm and Sunday 12 – 4pm. Atelier [zero] will be around until September 2nd.
Atelier [zero] is at Jackson's Warehouse off Tariff Street at Piccadilly Basin.
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