Civil ser­vice

As plans for the sen­si­tive re­de­vel­op­ment of an Ed­war­dian fire sta­tion in Manch­ester swing into ac­tion, the Wall­pa­per* Com­posed team dreams up a few daz­zling con­cepts for this ar­chi­tec­tural icon

Wallpaper - - October -

As a land­mark to mu­nic­i­pal mu­nif­i­cence is re­stored in Manch­ester, Wall­pa­per* Com­posed of­fers in­te­ri­ors in­spi­ra­tion

Back in 1899, af­ter win­ning a na­tional com­pe­ti­tion, Messrs Wood­house, Wil­loughby and Lang­ham set to work on a land­mark fire sta­tion build­ing on Lon­don Road, Manch­ester. The rev­ered architects based their de­sign for the multi-use struc­ture on sketches drawn by the chief fire of­fi­cer, Ge­orge Wil­liam Parker, on his shirt cuff. It was equipped with air con­di­tion­ing and elec­tric alarms, and was ca­pa­ble of ac­com­mo­dat­ing the mo­torised fire en­gines that were to re­place the old horse-drawn units.

Af­ter its com­ple­tion in 1906, the red brick and Bur­mantofts ter­ra­cotta struc­ture be­came a bona fide Man­cu­nian icon. This baroque cathe­dral to civic duty housed a seven-bay fire sta­tion, a po­lice sta­tion, a bank, a coroner’s court, work­ers’ ac­com­mo­da­tion and a gas-me­ter test­ing sta­tion.

Eighty years later, the Greater Manch­ester fire de­part­ment and the po­lice sta­tion were re­lo­cated, and the mag­nif­i­cent Grade Ii-listed build­ing was left va­cant. A 30-year pe­riod of dere­lic­tion, de­cay and un­cer­tainty fol­lowed. Var­i­ous grand schemes to con­vert it into a ho­tel, a mu­sic venue and a mu­seum all failed. In 2001, in a state of steep de­cline, the Lon­don Road fire sta­tion was placed on English Her­itage’s Build­ings and Struc­tures at Risk reg­is­ter.

Too im­por­tant to de­mol­ish and too ex­pen­sive to re­de­velop, its fu­ture looked bleak.

En­ter Mike In­gall, founder and CEO of Al­lied Lon­don. With the re­de­vel­op­ment of land­mark build­ings front and cen­tre on his CV (most no­tably Lon­don’s bru­tal­ist Brunswick Cen­tre, de­signed by Pa­trick Hodgkin­son), In­gall set to work on his own grand plan for Lon­don Road. The reimag­ined build­ing will com­bine 21st-cen­tury liv­ing and work­ing ar­range­ments with a bou­tique ho­tel, ‘all un­der­pinned by care­fully-cu­rated event, leisure and cul­tural spa­ces that will bring a new dy­namic to the city’.

Pro­tec­tion and preser­va­tion are at the heart of Al­lied Lon­don’s pro­posal. The in­tegrity, fab­ric and lay­out of the orig­i­nal de­sign will be re­garded as in­spi­ra­tional rather than trou­ble­some. Fix­tures and fit­tings such as oak doors, fire­men’s poles, old light switches and Shaker-style coat pegs will be made good. Ripped-out fire­places will be re­in­stalled, lay­ers of vin­tage wall­pa­per in the liv­ing quar­ters will be

framed in situ as art­works. The de­cayed will be re­stored and re­placed, the dis­tressed made good and adapted. Ear­lier this year, Al­lied Lon­don’s plans were ap­proved by Manch­ester City Coun­cil. Af­ter three decades, Lon­don Road is ‘ac­tion sta­tions’ once more.

It was the fire sta­tion’s court­yard that most in­spired In­gall. Work­ing with architects Le­vitt Bern­stein, he will over­see the in­stal­la­tion of a glass box at ground level and a ma­jor ex­ca­va­tion that will un­lock the po­ten­tial of the build­ing’s vast base­ment as a pub­lic events space. ‘We hope it will func­tion rather like Wil­ton’s Mu­sic Hall in Lon­don, mor­ph­ing be­tween uses and cre­at­ing a hub of ac­tiv­ity,’ In­gall says.

To help en­vi­sion the pos­si­bil­i­ties for the de­vel­op­ment’s in­te­ri­ors, In­gall ap­proached the Wall­pa­per* Com­posed team, led by in­te­ri­ors di­rec­tor Amy Hef­fer­nan, and Lon­don-based in­te­rior ar­chi­tec­ture prac­tice Amos and Amos, with a brief to cre­ate a con­cept for con­tem­po­rary live/work spa­ces within the rooms orig­i­nally given over to the coroner’s court. In­gall has asked the Zet­ter Group to run the five-storey bou­tique ho­tel, while the com­plex will also of­fer restau­rants, bars, in­ter­ac­tive art spa­ces, cof­fee shops, flower stalls, a cin­ema and a spa.

It sounds like a lot of work (com­ple­tion is set for sum­mer 2019), but In­gall is keen to play down the scale of the re­de­vel­op­ment and in­stead talk up the fire sta­tion’s gen­tle ren­o­va­tion. ‘It would be im­pos­si­ble to build some­thing to the orig­i­nal standard of Lon­don Road today,’ he says. ‘And all things con­sid­ered, the build­ing is in a pretty good state. We don’t ac­tu­ally need to do a lot… and we don’t re­ally want to ei­ther.’

The no­tion of care­ful in­ter­ven­tion rather than ma­jor re­con­struc­tion is key in a project like this, In­gall ex­plains. ‘It’s less about what you are adding, but [more about] how you are adding and how lit­tle you can take away. Any­one can de­velop a new build­ing. But few can make an old build­ing work again, make it sus­tain­able… make it live again.’∂

1. FLOOR LIGHT ‘La Lampe’ floor light, by Ida Linea Hilde­brand, for Friends & Founders 2. MIR­ROR ‘Ren’ wall mir­ror, by Neri & Hu, for Poltrona Frau 3. CUSH­IONS ‘Eclec­tic’ cush­ions, by Hay 4. SOFA ‘Mayor’ sofa, by Arne Ja­cob­sen and Flem­ming Lassen, for &Tra­di­tion 5. PLATE AND VASES ‘Edge Ø35’ brass plate, by Stilleben, for Sk­agerak; ‘Danc­ing Han­dles’ vases, by Jeanne Bon­nefoy-mer­cu­ri­ali, for TH Man­u­fac­ture 6. COF­FEE TA­BLE ‘Ro­dan’ cof­fee ta­ble, by Rus­sell Pinch, for Pinch 7. SIDE TA­BLE ‘Pon 1280’ side ta­ble, by Jasper Mor­ri­son, for Fred­eri­cia 8. VASES ‘Bon­bon’ mini vases, by Monica Förster, for Skul­tuna; ‘Vases 2’ vase, by Milia Seyp­pel, for Karak­ter 9. RUG ‘Her­ring­bone Nat­u­ral JT900’ rug, by Cru­cial Trad­ing 1 3 5 6 4 2 8 7 9

ABOVE, THE WALL­PA­PER* COM­POSED TEAM WERE ASKED TO BREATHE NEW LIFE INTO THE ROOMS AROUND THE FOR­MER CORONER’S COURT. THIS LIV­ING ROOM CON­CEPT SHOWS THE PO­TEN­TIAL OF THE HIGH-CEILINGED SPA­CES

PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: TO­BIAS HAR­VEY IN­TE­RI­ORS: AMY HEF­FER­NAN WRITER: SI­MON MILLS

LEFT, THE BUILD­ING CUR­RENTLY UN­DER DE­VEL­OP­MENT ORIG­I­NALLY CON­TAINED A FIRE STA­TION, A PO­LICE STA­TION, A BANK, THE CORONER’S COURT, AND WORK­ERS’ FLATS, AR­RANGED AROUND AN IN­NER COURT­YARD

1 2 4 3 5 1. STEP STOOL ‘Step Mini’ step stool, by Karl Malm­vall, for De­sign House Stockholm 2. UM­BRELLA STAND ‘Hub’ um­brella stand, by Jor­dan Mur­phy, for Um­bra 3. TA­BLE ‘Trio’ con­sole ta­ble, by Neri & Hu, for De La Es­pada 4. CANDLEHOLDER Earthen­ware candleholder, by Ce­cilie Manz, for Re­pub­lic of Fritz Hansen 5. MAG­A­ZINE RACK ‘Koppa’ mag­a­zine rack, by Tu­uli Bur­man & Tuttu Sil­lan­pää, for Verso De­sign BE­LOW, THE LEFT-HAND DOORS IN THIS LOBBY LEAD TO A STAIRWELL AND THEN THE STREET, WHILE THE DOORS ON THE RIGHT OPEN ONTO THE BAL­CONY

2 1 3 4 5 6 LEFT, EX­PLOR­ING THE IDEA OF TURN­ING THE CORONER’S COURT INTO A MEM­BERS’ CLUB OR EVENTS SPACE, THE TEAM IN­TRO­DUCED THIS DRINKS CAB­I­NET BY PINCH DE­SIGN TO THE BAL­CONY OVER­LOOK­ING THE COURT­ROOM 1. DRINKS CAB­I­NET ‘Frans’ drinks cab­i­net, by Rus­sell Pinch, for Pinch 2. GLASS­WARE ‘Otis’ cham­pagne flutes, cock­tail glasses and tum­blers, all by Monika Lubkowska-jonas, for LSA In­ter­na­tional 3. COCK­TAIL SHAKER ‘Plum’ cock­tail shaker, by Tom Dixon 4. GIN Rasp­berry-in­fused gin, by Manch­ester Gin 5. VODKA Vodka, by Konik’s Tail 6. BOURBON Bourbon, by Kings County Dis­tillery

1. LIGHTS ‘Caché’ ta­ble lights, by Aurélien Bar­bry, for Le Klint 2. TA­BLE ‘Planks’ ta­ble, by Max Lamb, for Bench­mark 3. POTS ‘Edge Ø18’ pot and ‘Edge Ø35’ pot, both by Stilleben, for Sk­agerak 4. LET­TER TRAY ‘No­mad’ let­ter tray and pen holder, both by VE2, for Sk­agerak 5. CHAIRS ‘Un­cino’ chairs, by Ro­nan & Er­wan Bouroul­lec, for Mat­ti­azzi 2 1 3 5 4

TOP RIGHT, THE WALL­PA­PER* COM­POSED TEAM’S CON­CEPT FOR A SHARED WORKSPACE ABOVE, THE LAUN­DRY ROOM’S ORIG­I­NAL DRYING SYS­TEM RIGHT, THE SEVEN-BAY FIRE STA­TION WAS DE­SIGNED FOR THE MO­TORISED FIRE EN­GINES THAT WERE RE­PLAC­ING HORSE-DRAWN UNITS

1 2 5 3 4 above left, the team com­ple­mented the drinks cab­i­net on the bal­cony with this in­for­mal set-up above right, look­ing down from the bal­cony over the court­room. wall­pa­per* com­posed com­mis­sioned the cus­tom-made cush­ions 1. light ‘Ul­tra­light’ floor light, by ma­ciej Kos­sowski, for Ul­tra­light 2. oil lamp ‘patina’ oil lamp, by Broberg & Rid­der­stråle, for Klong 3. glasses ‘Tank’ low­ball glasses, by Tom Dixon 4. chairs ‘gray 24’ chairs, by paola Navone, for ger­va­soni 5. side Ta­ble ‘pon 1280’ side ta­ble, by Jasper mor­ri­son, for Fred­eri­cia

left, the view across the bar in the build­ing’s orig­i­nal club room

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