A public-private joint venture between regeneration specialist U+I and the Mayfield Partnership, consisting of LCR, Manchester City Council and Transport for Greater Manchester has transformed the former Mayfield station and depot into a thriving mixed-use area in the heart of Manchester. Studio Egret West's design has now created around 1,500 homes, office space, a 350-room hotel, retail and leisure facilities and the new Mayfield Park, which covers more than 2 hectares. Opened in September 2022, it is the first new city centre park to be created in Manchester in the last 100 years.
The entire park is imbued with the post-industrial character of the area: during the Industrial Revolution, from 1782, Mayfield was the location of Thomas Hoyle's printing works. He chose the site because he needed immediate access to the water of the Medlock River.
Studio Egret West designed an accessible green space and a large play area. Before the intervention, this portion of the Medlock River was clogged, unattractive and almost completely hidden from view by industrial warehouses and bordered by high walls, so uncovering the river was a decisive move, also for biodiversity: since the park opened, the river has attracted wildlife to the area. Egret West's focus was on the choice of plants: the site was famous during the Victorian period for the production of purple textiles and the firm selected plants that would ensure purple blooms from spring to late autumn. In addition, more than 140 new trees were planted, adding to the diversity of the park. There are 45 different tree species, including maples, birches, pines and poplars, to name but a few.
On the peninsula along the northern edge of the park is the playground, which has six 10-metre high towers, the most adventurous of which has a rope bridge and a slide across the Medlock River. The towers were inspired by the archaeological remains of industrial chimneys and were designed in collaboration with local playground specialists Massey and Harris. One of the highlights of the project is a tower and slide that are fully accessible to children in wheelchairs.
StudioFractal designed the artificial lighting across Mayfield Park to softly highlight materials and textures, emphasise circulation routes, bridges, rest and play areas and to use light to encourage exploration. A key element of the design was to create a warm and welcoming night time environment whilst strictly controlling light to the "human" areas, leaving the majority of the park in darkness. It was crucial to avoid light spill on the river or wetlands so as not to disturb their natural inhabitants - including fish, badgers, birds and bats. Very low levels of concealed illumination blend seamlessly with shadow and darkness to create a calming and restful night garden.
The iWay bollards with super comfort optics, asymmetrical with 180° beam and 3000K colour temperature direct the light therefore only onto the walking surface of the paths, while the Palco inOut pole-mounted projectors, equipped with lenses and screens also direct the light onto specific areas. Some Palco are equipped with gobos that reproduce small waves, projected along the paths within the playground. In this way the lighting design reveals the plants, materials and their textures, shapes and gives rhythm to the whole area.
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