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Stone, S., Lee, S., Sanderson, L., 2021.

Bradford Reimagined

Output Type:Exhibition
Venue:City Park, Bradford
Dates:9/7/2021 - 31/8/2021
Number of Works:250

Press Release

The future regeneration of Bradford's 'Top of Town' is set to be brought to life thanks to a new exhibition showcasing more than 250 architectural drawings created by students from the Manchester School of Architecture (SoA), which opens at City Park in Bradford city centre next month.

'Bradford Reimagined', an outdoor exhibition which opens on July 10 and is a is the culmination of a year-long project which saw over 70 BA and MArch architecture students invited to explore regeneration opportunities for this important heritage area in the city centre.

The 'Top of Town' encompasses many of Bradford's most historic buildings including the Victorian Yorkshire Penny Bank and Bradford Dispensary, and has been the focus of major regeneration plans over the last few years. In 2018, the area received 2m in Heritage Lottery Funding for its redevelopment and is included in Bradford Council's 10-year vision to create a vibrant 'City Village' of around 1,000 attractive new homes and for business to trade, invest and grow.

However, regeneration projects have been slow off the ground and local architect Kieran Thompson, who works at the who is in his final months of training to become an Architect with IBI Group and a member of Bradford Civic Society, decided to attempt to produce high quality proposals for the area. Having graduated from Manchester School of Architecture in 2019, he commissioned students at his former University to look at the potential of this area, with the aim of setting a new standard for city centre living.

He applied for and was granted 7,680 funding from the Architectural Heritage Fund to enable this commission, setting a new precedent as the first time the fund has awarded money for a concept design-only project.

Commented Kieran: "My family are from Bradford, and I've long been fascinated by the city, its architecture and its potential. The City Village designation offers a fantastic opportunity to develop what could be a 21st century Saltaire. But we need to challenge traditional design approaches and become more people led. We asked the students to question things like ownership models or the lack of green public realm and look at why so many people moved out of cities during the last year and how they could be transformed to become vibrant and child friendly. The resulting design concepts are quite ground-breaking, and I hope some of these ideas will be taken into consideration by the city planners and developers going forward."

Due to restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the students had to combat the challenge of undertaking the project remotely without seeing the physical buildings and streetscapes, working collaboratively online from their homes from across the UK and beyond including Latvia, India, Hong Kong and China. They used detailed plans, drawings and information from local organisations including the Bradford Civic Society and the Townscape Heritage Fund - a 2 million grant programme supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) and the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council - to research and develop their concepts.

Laura Sanderson, Atelier Leader of Continuity in Architecture at the Manchester School of Architecture, who oversaw the project said: "The exhibition includes a series of innovative design ideas, many of which focus on the lack of public and green space in the area, with students looking to combat this by creating new squares, communal gardens, roof terraces, green atrium spaces and winter gardens. New residential developments consider the different type of homes which would be needed in this inner-city location, from co-housing and affordable housing to multi-generational living."

"There are also examples of how to transform some of the larger historical buildings into innovative co-working or cultural spaces without having to divide these incredible heritage assets. The work on display in Bradford Reimagined will help to bridge the gap between the challenges that the 'Top of Town' faces and innovative ways in which they might be solved."

The 'Bradford Reimagined' exhibition is free to visit and is located in City Park beneath the big screen. The exhibition runs until the end of August 2021. The project is also supported by The Architectural Heritage Fund and National Lottery Townscapes Heritage Fund.

"We hope that you like the projects on display; they are specifically designed for Bradford and the people of the city. They are deliberately challenging and ambitious and we hope that they will help everyone love their city a little bit more, expect more from it, and maybe this collection of thought-provoking and creative proposals will help to generate a bright new future for Bradford"