Airport City Design Charette


‘The AJ hand-selected an exciting mix of architects to come up with concept ideas for Plot C at Airport City – a 1.29ha site at the heart of 5plus Architects’ masterplan for the new business and leisure destination near Manchester Airport.’

'We shape cities and they shape us.. Can this be said of an airport city.. ?'

Jan Gehl

Jan Gehl, the doyen of public-space design says: We shape cities, and they shape us. Can this be said of an airport city, in context of the transient nature of airports and the vacuous environments they create through brutal transport infrastructure supporting core functions?

Our proposal provides a structure that enables Airport City to become a compact city, encouraging a diverse mix of activity through improved connectivity around public transport, walking and cycling. Two primary elements are proposed: a main square at the heart of the masterplan, from which a gridded urban arrangement creates a hierarchy of streetscape and provides visual and physical connection to the space from peripheral road networks and community beyond; and an inhabited walkway connecting the airport transport interchange across the M56, elevated and providing a visual connection with the main square, which controls pedestrian movement to and from places of work.

The bridge link becomes a primary route for pedestrian connectivity and servicing of the masterplan while providing car parking within to serve both the airport and the masterplan. A city’s public domain, its streets, squares and parks become the platform for people to meet, exchange ideas, trade or simply relax and enjoy themselves.

Crit Notes

Ruairidh Jackson

I like how you deal with everything by essentially funnelling activity through the site.

Phil Doyle

I like that they have gone outside the charrette boundary – it shows a wider awareness and urban design thinking.

Michel Mossessian

This is strong urban architecture. This allows, along the grid, for anything to happen. Why are we so afraid, clients, of simple archetypes and diagrams?

60 Seconds with HAUS

What do you think of when you hear the words business park?
Disappointment. It suggests that you’re taking life from the heart of a town or city and relocating it outside of the urban centre.

And when you hear the words airport city?
Towns or cities have always grown up around infrastructure – whether that’s rivers or roads – but I’m sceptical about the idea that real townscapes will develop around airports.

What is the single most appealing aspect of the site and masterplan?
The possibility of changing perceptions of what a business park can be.

In one sentence, sum up how you are bringing the site to life.
We’re resurrecting an approach to place based on the hierarchy of an urban fabric that places the pedestrian ahead of the car user – or improves that balance at least.

Which Manchester pop song sums up your approach?
I am the Resurrection by The Stone Roses.

MAC