Over the past year Studio North have been highly involved with public discussions and debates focused on the future of Manchester and its development. Katie Tonkinson’s participation in the Great Debate “The Public’s Realm?” inspired the studio to organise their own debate alongside Civic Engineers, who collaborate with Hawkins\Brown on a number of projects.
The debate took place on the 14th of June and was an opportunity for the members of both offices to get to know each other. The themes of the event were inspired by current events and trending topics in the fields of architecture and engineering. One of the themes of the event, ‘Preservation of Listed Buildings’, was informed by the regeneration scheme Rutland Mills in Wakefield, where Hawkins\Brown and Civic Engineers have been working together. The debating teams discussed whether demolition of listed buildings should be allowed if it encourages improved development and how should listed buildings be assessed.
The other theme which was interrogated was ‘Urban Development in Manchester’. This topic of debate was chosen to address Manchester’s rapidly changing skyline: it is building more skyscrapers than any other UK city outside of London. The teams focused the debate around the future of the city and what could be done differently, should investment be controlled and how can development be encouraged to improve cost of living, rental and purchase market?
Each question was deliberated by two teams and each team consisted of members from both offices. At the end of the debate the audience was also involved by asking questions to the both teams and voting for their preferred team. The feedback from the event has been very positive and has presented an opportunity for future debate events.