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Crompton, E., Lee, A., Lee, C., 2021.

Building and Re-Building a Proud (Queer) Space

Output Type:Conference paper
Presented at:V CIAG | V International Congress of Architecture and Gender | ACTION. Feminisms and the spatialization of resistances
Venue:Lisbon, Portugal
Dates:21/4/2021 - 23/4/2021

There have been two buildings designed specifically for the LGBT+ community in Manchester, just thirty years apart and on the same constrained city-centre site. All other similar community centres re-appropriate existing buildings or make use of generic community spaces. This paper will reflect on a seven-year collaborative design and build process constructing the new LGBT+ Centre, one fit for 21st Century activism, as it replaces the previous gay centre, built in 1988.

In this two part paper we will contrast and reflect on the original 1988 building in comparison to the new 2021 design and their very different economic and social contexts. There is symmetry in both project's stories from funding, design and construction, however, it is striking how different the brief and representation was for each iteration. From an 80s bunker-type local authority building afraid to let anyone know who was inside for fear of petrol bombs, to a building rising proudly to the sky shining gold to welcome people in, whilst still providing protection to those more vulnerable inside. This project, while accepting fully that "architecture is constituted through occupation" (Rendell et al, 2000), demands physical space; not only the use of it. We will discuss the audacity with which campaigners in Manchester demanded physical space first in the 1980s, and then again in the 2010s. We will reflect on how the occupants of the building affected the architectural process, the act of design and the designers themselves, and effected the 'product' of the building.