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GROUND ZONE’ – pilot for a Liveable City Design toolkit

The Ground Zone project was a collaboration between the Manchester Urban Institute, and architects / urban designers Callison RTKL.  In a 9-month pilot, funded by the University ‘Innovation Lab’ program, the Ground Zone included:

  1. A ‘Liveable city pilot’: a case study of the Ground Zone or public realm, which demonstrates how physical urban design can combine with ‘social design’.
  2. A ‘Liveable city toolkit’ (demo version) – as a practical resource for general use.

The ‘ground zone’ is where building activities and users, meet the streetscape, public realm & urban context – a kind of ‘liveable city interface’.  Current trends bring new challenges for cities around the world:  

  • Post-pandemic cities see rapid change in employment & retail
  • Local economy changes with part-time work & semi-retirement,
  • Online retail and public services change the logic of local centres
  • Rise in privatization & enclosure / surveillance of public realm
  • Gentrification / globalization of formerly local areas

Overall we can see growing competition for space & place, between two kinds of values and two kinds of functionality: –

  1. private realm with defined uses: mainly an economic value agenda (‘city for enterprise’)
  2. public realm with open uses: mainly a social value agenda (‘city for humans’

Turning competition into collaboration, we look for synergies between social and economic value, and between the many stakeholders on each side.  The Liveable city design toolkit helps to find those synergies, and embed them in the mainstream design & development process. 

This current pilot program is a ‘proof of concept’, to test and evaluate.  The case study is the area in Salford around Trafford Road between the Quays and Ordsall, including key development sites.

The project adapts the existing Pathways Toolkit for the Ground Zone & Liveable city design challenge.  This contributes into the Manchester Urban Institute strategic program of place-making and co-production, from the micro-local to the city-region scale.

A project flyer is on Ground zone & social city design – outline –

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