Thursday 29 September 2016

My very own digital wallpaper designs

Still a bit hectic this week, so I'll just eave you with these wallpapers which I produced at the London Design Biennale, in the Cooper Hewitt exhibition. More details next time.

Friday 16 September 2016

Oxford Road Station, Manchester

"One of the most remarkable and unusual stations in the country both for the architectural form and the technological interest"

This extraordinary building, with its three laminated timber conoid shell roofs was designed by architect Max Clendenning of British Railways' Midland region, with structural engineer Hugh Tottenham of the Timber Development Association. It had to be built of wood because it sits atop a weak viaduct, which cannot bear the weight of a brick or concrete structure. The form of the roofs allows a large space to be covered without the use of internal columns, and giving the station a dramatic appearance, and a light and airy interior.

Here are some pictures I took on a recent visit.

It is described in the Pevsner guide to Manchester as
"One of the most interesting and innovative buildings of the period" 
"One of the most remarkable and unusual stations in the country both for the architectural form and the technological interest"
Here is a picture showing the roofs under construction, from the RIBA collections (click on the title for a higher resolution image):

Oxford Road railway station, Manchester: the laminated timber shell roof under construction

Despite its elevated situation, the single storey station is hidden from view by surrounding buildings, and by the curving approach road that leads to it.

The area around Oxford Road Sation is scheduled for extensive redevelopment, and there is concern that demolition of the existing buildings will destroy the character of the place. The famous Cornerhouse cinema just outside the station is closed and at risk of demolition, along with other nearby buildings.

I hope that this does not happen.

Historic England listing, with further references

Thursday 1 September 2016

The Palace Hotel, Manchester

A beautiful, ornate, monumental and friendly hotel, with magnificent public areas

During a recent trip to Manchester for the Urban Sketchers Symposium, we decided that we'd rather like to visit again. We were sitting in the bar of the Palace Hotel, and a quick online search showed that we could get quite a good deal for a short stay over the coming August bank holiday, so we decided to book a room, and duly returned a few weeks later for a stay.

The red brick and terracotta hotel is a grade II listed building originally built for the Refuge Assurance Company. It's an enormous, monumental structure, one of the landmark buildings in the city. The first phase was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, and built in 1891-1895. Alfred Waterhouse was, of course, the architect of the Manchester Town Hall, and the Natural History Museum in London. His son Paul designed the second phase, along with the 66 m tower, which was built in 1910-1912. A further extension was added in 1932 by Stanley Birkett. The Refuge company moved out in 1989, and the building was disused for several years. In 1996 it was converted into a hotel by Richard Newman. Prior to our visit, it had just undergone another major refurbishment.

The inside of the hotel is even more striking than the exterior. Richly decorated and faced with glazed brick and faience, there is a wealth of detail lots to look at. The refurbishment has been very well done, with contemporary lighting and furniture that fits in perfectly with the Victorian / Edwardian interior.

There is a very attractive and comfortable bar, where you can admire your surroundings over tea, a drink, and even some food.

Beyond the bar, the restaurant where we breakfast was served. The breakfast, by the way was excellent.

Adjacent to the restaurant, a covered courtyard known as the winter garden.

More details:

We were fortunate to be allocated a generously proportioned room on the first floor, with a high ceiling and a very large window. If you want a room with a high ceiling, note that the ceilings get lower as you go up the building, as you can tell by looking at the façade.

The room was very comfortably furnished, without being ostentatiously luxurious. The mattress on the bed was firm, the way we like it.

There were sensible reading lights on stalks attached to the headboard.

The desk was just right for someone wanting to do a bit of work, with a USB port in the power socket. The television was mounted at a sensible height for comfortable viewing from the bed.

The wardrobe had an ironing board, and proper hangers (not those hotel hangers fixed to the rail). Our bathroom, as it happened, was designed for disabled users, with an excellent shower.

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in the Palace Hotel. It was a beautiful, sensitively refurbished and furnished, and perfectly at ease in the 21st century. It was comfortable but not ostentatious or swanky. The staff were friendly, helpful and professional. It's not a budget hotel, but not as expensive as the really posh establishments. For your money you get extremely comfortable and well appointed rooms, and a really superb breakfast. The public areas are staggering in their grandeur, and of course you don't have to be a resident to enjoy them.

The Palace Hotel
Oxford Street Manchester,
M60 7HA, UK
Tel: +44 (0)161 288  1111