Echoing New York’s High Line, Manchester’s Castlefield Viaduct, a disused railway viaduct dating back to the Victorian, will be transformed into a public park. The design developed by Twelve Architects pays homage to the city’s industrial heritage while bringing new life to the structure and establishing a new vibrant public space within the city centre. The two-stage design process creates a temporary park, enlisting the public’s feedback before implementing the new urban design.
Once used to transport coal, the cast iron and steel bridge has stood unused since the closure of Manchester Central station in 1969, having benefited only from minor repairs and maintenance work. Now the heritage structure is set to be transformed into a public park, in tune with the city’s new aspirations for improving the urban environment. The project is developed with the involvement of the local community, with the first stage consisting of a pilot installation and temporary park available throughout the summer of 2022, which will allow the public to experience the park and give feedback, which will then shape the vision for the permanent regeneration of the viaduct.
The pilot project developed by Twelve Architects creates three zones that take visitors on a journey from the viaduct’s current state to what the transformation could provide to the city dwellers. After a welcoming area containing various amenities, visitors will be introduced to a viaduct section with minimal architectural and landscaping intervention meant to showcase the existing structure. The final section illustrates the park proposal showcasing lush vegetation in COR-TEN steel planters, as well as areas dedicated to art installations and community showcases, as well as an event space clad in greenery.
The project is part of the National Trust’s Urban Places initiative, designed to address the unequal access to green space in urban areas by creating opportunities for new green infrastructure. The National Trust is a conservation charity dedicated to preserving British heritage and open spaces.