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Mancunia

stesmif

Member
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5
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My architectural studies in Manchester, England have led me to develop a specific interest in how cities deal with the issue of depopulation. It may seem strange that on an island as overpopulated as the UK that there should be any such issue, but several northern cities are experiencing population decline. East Manchester is a good example of this. Once the birth place of the Industrial Revolution over 200 years ago, the area was an industrial powerhouse until the 1970s. Since then the population has halved and few industries remain. Over a third of the land in this huge area of the city is now vacant.

Based at the Manchester School of Architecture we have been investigating the possibilities that these types of area present. Can we find a suitable use for this land? Is there any point trying to get people to move back? Is there any such thing as community these days anyway? And is depopulation actually such a bad thing?

We have made many propositions such as urban farms, and recreational uses (ever played urban golf?) all of which may initially sound unlikely, but are serious suggestions for this type of urban condition.

Further to my interest in this condition I will shortly be making a visit to Deroit which evidently exhibits the problems/potential associated with depopulation and I be very grateful to anybody out there with any tips on where to visit, sources of information, and general advice.

BTW, I've just ordered a book called Stalking Detroit, edited by Young. Anyone know it?
 
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When you say that the area is vacant, are you referring to the structures or the land itself? The Warehouse District in downtown New Orleans is a good example of adaptive reuse where it was once an industrial area that primarily served the industry along the river. After the 1984 World's Fair, developers began converting the old warehouses into condos, apartments, hotels, etc. The area now has its fair share of restaurants, museums, art galleries, etc. Although the city has continued to lose population over the last 10-15 yrs or so, it has not affected the progress of the Warehouse District's renaissance.
 

stesmif

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Planderella said:
When you say that the area is vacant, are you referring to the structures or the land itself?
Both. There is about 250 hectares of empty land, all 'brownfield' (as we call it in the UK, as opposed to 'greenfield' land that has never been developed) and another 100 hectares of land containing derelict buildings, either residential or industrial. Sadly the derelict buildings are rarely of siginificant enough quality to consider anything but demolition, but there are a few Victorian gems out there that might one day get polished up.
 

Journeymouse

Cyburbian
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443
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*sigh of relief* Finally, someone who can aswer the planning questions they keep asking me!

Nice to meet you, Stesmif
 

dmvallie

Cyburbian
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22
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Hi.
I don't care much for golf myself but I bet many CEO's would like a city golf course. The Victorian houses could (possibly) be renovated for clubhouses or the 19th Hole type restaurant/bar.
....or the locals might prefer something else. This might be a good time for a sidewalk survey.
 

stesmif

Member
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Thanks for your comments. To be honest, I don't care much for golf either. But I was thinking I would care for it more if there was a course located where I didn't have to use my car close to somewhere with lots of public transport and shops (where my girlfriend would go shopping, natch) and perhaps without the gimps (CEOs?) wearing ill-advised tartan plus-fours and certainly without the racsist/sexist undertones that still prevail at so many of middle Englands leafy clubhouses. And I've already ear-marked an old blue factory building near the canal for the 19th hole, just in case this thing should ever take off...
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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It does sound like an interesting idea. Such a course would be very different - golf with an urban feel. At the same time, I hate to see good land with infrastructure and all of that investment dedicated to a park use that restricts access to only the people playing at the moment. Still, if it spurs adjacent redevelopment and revitalization, perhaps not so bad.
 

stesmif

Member
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I suppose thats the thing - this isn't good land. Its derelict save for a few council houses dotted around the edges. There is little prospect for 'traditional' regeneration - nobody wants to locate there and depopulation is increasing. A golf course would be of value to the few remaining residents - we all know what golf courses do to real estate values. It's a similar senario to Detroit in a way, where empty plots very close to down town are being used for urban farms by the local reisdents. The land has lost any commercial value and is reverting slowly to the rural condition. Right next to the downtown skyscrapers. Does this excite anyone else? I think it's amazing - what a mockery of planning it does make.
 

dmvallie

Cyburbian
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22
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Very exciting! Downtown land in many cities is ridiculously overpriced. There should be substantial transport savings for urban agriculture and residents will get locally grown food. Have you checked into using urban sewer waste for fertilizer? If the city paid a farmer to dispose of the waste instead of a treatment plant ?
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
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7,903
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Maybe Mancunia should start a thread on this somewhere in the boards...getting a little beyond an introduction here :)
 
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