Context & Brief

Mayfield is a ‘park first’ 6.5-acre green space in Manchester, which over the next decade will anchor the development of 500 homes, one million square metres of office space, a 350-bedroom hotel, retail and leisure facilities.

The scheme is a joint venture between developer U+I and The Mayfield Partnership, which is made up of regeneration corporation LCR, Manchester City Council and Transport for Greater Manchester.

The 24-acre brownfield site, with an industrial heritage, had been derelict for over 30 years. The River Medlock, flowing through its core, was heavily polluted, covered over in places and full of industrial debris and waste.

The brief was to design a ‘Mancunian Park’, a park that felt connected to its history and context, usable by all and balanced in its creation of habitat for wildlife and active space for people.

The Process/Solution

Mayfield’s industrial heritage steered our design approach. We were influenced by the site as we found it, its combination of post-industrial deterioration and colonising planting.

Material choices, re-use and considered detailing of hard landscape were key to maintaining the site’s industrial and Mancunian character. In an intentional contrast of aesthetic, this is framed with an abundance of nature and naturalistic planting design. This approach says a lot about Manchester as the world’s first industrial city and its greener future.

Opening up the river was key to the concept of amplifying nature. Improvements to the river were made in the knowledge that The River Medlock was a connector for wildlife and connected our site with the city’s greener riparian edges, unlocking the potential of existing blue and green infrastructure, drawing the countryside in and realising its potential to be more bio-diverse and attract wildlife right into and through the heart of the urban core.

Spatially the concept for the park is ‘a sequence of spaces’, a series of interlocking character areas, organised by the meandering river which naturally creates separation between areas as it snakes through the green space. A park with multiple character areas can provide more for a variety of users.

Underpinning the design are six design principles which helped guide the overall park vision and were the touchstones for all design decisions throughout the process.

• make it ‘Mayfield’
• open up the river
• celebrate decay
• step, sculpt, soften
• nature finding it ways
• climate change resilience

Social, Environmental & Spatial Facts

Mayfield Park has been designed to accommodate a 1 in 100 year plus climate change flood scenario.

The Mayfield development has dedicated 6.5 acres of develop-able area to deliver a park, promoting biodiversity, improving climate resilience on site and protecting this space from being developed on.

Following planning approval, site investigations and the award of Government funding in 2020 (‘Build Back Better’ 23m) to deliver the park in a single phase, a number of opportunities were identified and the following key moves made:

• Further studies on the river and its retaining walls were undertaken – leading to an opportunity to better work with the existing morphology of the river and retain structural elements that were deemed to be fit for purpose.

• Where walls were compromised, recycled bricks were used to repair and protect them to enhance their longevity. Where new walls were required, materials were sourced as locally as possible. 1,500 m2 of existing river wall area has been retained.

• To reduce the earthworks required to speed up the project, the existing topography of the site was reviewed so that existing levels could be maintained if possible. The flood compensation zone was swapped from the north east corner of the park to an area located centrally. This also significantly reduced the carbon associated with transport of materials.

• There was a reduction of circa 650m3 of concrete needed for civil structures following the retention of the existing bridge structures, saving approx..112 and 175.5 tonnes of CO2e based on embodied carbon of conventional structural concrete.

• Seven 9m long cast iron hogback beams, weighing approximately 10 tonnes each, were salvaged from the culvert and reused. This avoided the need for new steel or iron supports for the three new bridges. The retention of the beams is estimated to have saved 23.8 tonnes of CO2e.

• The trees will take out approx. 3 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere per annum, in addition to the CO2 that has been sequestered whilst trees were grown in nurseries. Additional carbon is sequestered from all other areas of soft planting.

• 13 wells were discovered and 3 of these were retained – they are used for irrigation purposes. As a conservative estimate, approximately 3,375,000l, or 3,375m3, of water will be needed per year to irrigate 1.2haof soft landscaping proposed at Mayfield. If all of this water comes from existing wells on site, it will save 0.9 tonnes CO2e per year.

Location: Boardman Gate Entrance, Baring St, Manchester M1 2PY
Design year: 2016-ongoing
Year Completed: September 2022

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