3.2. Context 80
126.96.36.199. Sandyhill Court, Manchester 143
As for physical form and visual impact, the architectural design is quite unimpressive. Some brick cladding and concrete panels create quite boring appearance with a style that is common for buildings from the 70s’ and the façade looks rather plain beside the effort to add variety by the contrast of the materials. The problem comes from the form, the building is a rectangular box with nothing intriguing to offer to the observer.
Fig. 5.7. Sandyhill Court, July 2017
There is visual conformity but no continuity due to the fact that there are several other high-rises in the vicinity, with matching form and materials. There is no smooth transition in height important for the good streetscape. The relations to the street are out of proportions: the building is too tall for the small street. However, by careful arrangement of the high-rise and the adjacent buildings, chaos and disorder are avoided. The base is supposed to correspond to the human scale, but looks very compressed and is not articulated to solve the problem with the human scale. The connection with the surroundings is mitigated to be seamless by introducing green spaces, but enclosure was impossible to be achieved by these forms. Legibility is good, promoted by development that provides recognisable routes, landmark buildings to help people find their way around the building form.
There is no interesting massing, the silhouette is simple, the proportion clearly vertical with a good relationship to the other high-rises that have similar characteristics. As a group, they improve the legibility of the area, by emphasizing a point of civic and visual significance which appropriate and enhance the skyline, which however is quite scattered and the image which is of
old, dull architecture. There is no composition around a single, important spot. The area, however, is characterised by visual order and harmony, due to the clear, straight lines of the buildings. There is certain richness from the diversity of materials and contrasting sizes.
As for the properly scaled mix of uses and functions, there is no plaza, only a parking lot. The diversity of functions has not been observed. Nature is helping the design to some extent, but there is no rich planting used to enliven the visitors’ perception of change, colour, light and textures. There are no formal and informal seating orientations, no shops or restaurants, cafes, associated with the building, no space to play outside, no recreational activities or a network of functions. The design does not offer anything to use in peak hours in terms of shade, sunlight and windiness. There is visual intrusion caused by parked cars in front of the building. There is no non-car street promotion or street furniture. There haven’t been spotted any seating walls viewing interesting sights. However, changes of levels to obstruct pedestrian access were missing. The street cannot be used as a plaza. The space looks quite redundant. The impact on public life and community perception is insignificant.
As for quality activities in quality places, there haven’t been observed a variety of people busy with diverse activities around the tower mainly because there are no facilities for this. It does not offer anything to facilitate picnicking, reading, sleeping, sunbathing, sprawling. There is no obvious resident participation in the public life. The building is accessible, but pedestrian freedom is not encouraged due to fences and vegetation. Retail and civic functions are missing. There is no café around or in the building. There is no space to meet and chat, linger, watch, sit, stand, no traffic calming. It is not attracting people to create a vibrant environment. However, the street is meeting minimum health standards, it is very quiet.
As for a strong sense of place, the observant is not getting the idea that this is very meaningful location, nature is existing, but not creatively used in the design process. There is no public art, the building is accessible, but is missing a variety of functions. There are no important views and landmarks protected. The building does not contribute to the sense of place, mainly because the
placemaking component in the design process has been entirely omitted. As much as there is a pedestrian system, quite simple actually, the building ties well in it. There is no guidance of the pedestrians in the form of walls, bollards or planters. There is no variety of forms, colours, surface structures, seating, nukes and corners, trees and bushes. The image of the area is quite dull, the exteriors unimpressive, lacking symbolism.
A great omission is the lack of plaza where high-rises can play power symbol. There are no spaces for encounter and gathering, even though the infrastructure is adequate, but space does not meet different needs. However, there is a feeling of security in the place. Coffee shops, community centres, central stores and bars could enhance this feeling. The quality of the place affects the use: it is quite redundant and is not attention-getting. Altogether, it does not provide meaningful experience in the user and has no character, memorable skyline or vivid atmosphere.