Option 4a: The Rooftop Project

Words: Abi Goodman

In addition to the opening of the Unit X exhibition at London Scottish House, Mount Street (opposite the Manchester Convention Centre), a pop-up event will be taking place for tenants at The Rooftop Project, 24 Lever Street, within the Northern Quarter on Thursday 12th May.

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The Rooftop Project is an initiative that has transformed a once unutilised urban space into a social hub for the building’s creative & digital industry tenants. It is a co-designed space designed for conversation, relaxation and collaboration.

Second year students from BA (Hons) Three Dimensional Design, BA (Hons) Textiles in Practice, BA (Hons) Fine Art, and BA (Hons) Interactive Arts have been working in groups to create site-specific interventions for the Rooftop using sustainable materials. The project involves transforming a rooftop space through upcycling and re-hashing existing ‘industrial materials’ to come up with contemporary solutions for weather resistant seating, coverings, shelters, lighting, ornaments and/or sculptures.

We have been fortunate to join students on the project on two occasions, the first time for a materiality workshop (in which students were able to experiment with manipulating different materials) and on a second occasion when students pitched their proposed ideas to the client, Becca Taylor (who is a partner of the Curiosity Bureau and is undertaking doctoral research concerning designing with people on ‘The Rooftop Project’) and Greg Ashton (who organises club nights and events).

“The rooftop was originally an activist response. A form of activism to create some green space within the Northern Quarter.” (Becca)

The client was interested in the concepts underpinning the proposed ideas (driven by each group developing their own manifesto). Becca and Greg also gave great advice about the practicalities of installing work including the need to consider: the weather (particularly the wind); the scale of the proposed work (whether it is big enough, how it will fit in with the configuration of the roofspace and the way it is used); the weight (it mustn’t be too heavy); stability; and access to power if required.

Pitched projects included a lighting solution for the rooftop to enhance the space for club nights, work to adorn the borders of the rooftop, an interactive angle-poised crane sculpture with a reflective ball to highlight the rooftop surroundings, a piece of seating inspired by the interests of the building’s users, and an immersive shelter.

Commenting on the experience of working across disciplines, Fine Art student Sophie said:

“[The Rooftop Project] is enjoyable as it has attracted people with an interest in design and sculptural interests. We’ve got a discipline in this and have had to be really structured in the way we work which is great.”

Having seen the interim pitches we’re really excited to see the final products installed on the rooftop!

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