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JOAQUIM MANUEL GRAÇA DA PAZ

Environmental Psychology - M.S.A. 2007

PEOPLE AND PLACE MODULE :

Grosvenor Square-Manchester
IDENTIFICATION
Grosvenor Square is located at the centre of
Oxford Road – Manchester, as the heart of All
Saints Campus, working like an outdoor of
the University, and the reasons for my choice
are multiple, starting by the location, near
from where I’m living, what better facilitates
my observations, but also by the fact of being
a site with so many different people passing
through or using it, with so many different
activities taking place, providing good quantity
of observation material.

But there are also some associations and


some kind of attachment involved, as it’s was
there where myself and class-mates stayed at
lunch time, when our first visit to the
Art&Design final year exhibition, and which
Faculty were to become my own “home” after
a few months, and this same place, since
then, being crossed and seen and used by
myself almost everyday .
PHYSICAL FORM - 1
In the centre of the park there’s a stone wall as
remaining of the perimeter of the former All Saints
Church, demolished in 1949 following bomb damaged
during the blitz of 1940. The majority of the surrounding
churchyard, now the park, was used as a graveyard
and it’s said to contain the remains of 16.500 people
buried there during the 19th. century.

Being part of All Saints Campus, the square is


surrounded by the University buildings, most of them of
historical importance, the oldest being the former
Medlock Town Hall, built in 1831, of which only the
façade remains, and side by side the Grosvenor
Building, the only one which still being used for its
original purpose.

Another interesting architecture examples are, the


Ormond Building, from 1881, now used as office for the
Faculty of Art & Design, and most recent, the All Saints
Building, from 1977, by Sheppard Robson Partners,
remodelled and enlarged in 1994-96 to better
accommodate the Library of this Faculty.
PHYSICAL FORM - 2
The park is maintained by the University, while remaining open to public, and restrictions on access
could be implemented, as stated in the gates of the park, which could be closed on evenings,
supposedly to better protect from eventual abuse, what can be read as obvious protective intentions
but also could be questioned as it seems to me in some way as a reflection of a prohibitionist policy
tradition, which do not start from the best presumption of the human social behaviour.
Another aspect, still directly related to the safety of the site, is the weak illumination of the site during
night , when it becomes dark and desert, and could be different, more lively, open, and still being
protected.
ACTIONS
• There are always people arriving at the
bus stops, or passing by, some staying
or just crossing the park, which is
mostly frequented by students, but
other types of users could be
identified, like couples searching some
privacy, families looking for some
fresh air and safety to get relaxed
with their kids, or vagabonds looking
for some discretion to get some drink
or food… but is generally and often
used as a relaxing space, specially
when the sun shines, it’s lunch time,
and there’s nothing better to do than
sit down there, getting your sandwich
or not, looking up to the sky, better at
least than eating and walking at the
same time, as also can been seen , as
all our jobs are so enslaving that we
have no time at least to take a break
and enjoy our meals…
MEANINGS AND EMOTIONS

• If Manchester were a book and Oxford Road one of its central


chapters, Grosvenor Square could be read as a pause between two
paragraphs, a green breathing place.
SUSTAINABILITY - 1
• With a multiple bus stop on both sides of Oxford Road, surrounded by the Fuit &Veg
and the Burger caravans, two telephones available, bank, offices and several small
shops on the other side of the road, with hundreds or thousands of people arriving
and crossing everyday, depending of the time of the year and the students terms
times, and served by this small local commerce area, the site seems to be relatively
healthy and equilibrated in social-economical terms and its balance relying on a self-
equilibrating system of the users needs and offers.
SUSTAINABILITY - 2
• The site has also crucial importance in terms of
ecological balance, providing an open, relaxing space for
people, adding some more air quality , but also keeping
some fauna and flora species, so, being very important
as well in terms of bio-diversity - a squirrel has been
seen, as different types of birds can be noticed in the
trees.
So, the maintenance of this green relaxing area, which
works like a breathing zone for the traffic in the area, is
wished, and any plans to alter the site must carefully
consider the importance of this place, and all its
implications to the pedestrian and automobile movement
in Oxford Road, as its impact to the global health of the
city.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

The Image of the City : Kevin Lynch


Art and the Natural Environment - Nicola Hodges
Environmental Psychology - P. Fisher Bell
Architecture as space - Bruno Zevi
Manchester – Clare Hartwell
Manchester Architecture Guide – Eamon Canniffe-
Tom Jefferies

JOAQUIM PAZ - MANCHESTER, APRIL 2007