Chimney Pot Park is a 2007 Urban Splash development designed by architects ShedKM, who aimed to regenerate derelict terraced housing in Salford at a total cost of £88million (Urban Splash, 2007)
A unique approach to terraced design saw the internal layouts flipped upside down, with living room and kitchens on the upper floors and bedrooms below. This effectively moved the more communal spaces of the house to the second storey, which was complimented by a first storey terrace which adjoined the backs of houses. This created a raised semi-private communal space which enlivened the usually neglected rear facades, as well as allowing for parking to be discreetly located beneath the terrace.
This innovative design garnered plenty of attention from locals, with all 349 units being sold within 3 hours, as well as gathering six architectural awards including CABE and RIBA. However, over time it became apparent that the new scheme fell victim to many of the issues which drove the previous residents away, such as anti-social behaviour, vandalism and theft (Scheerhout, 2017).
There are a number of reasons that I suggest led to this, centred around a lack of foresight with regards to place making. It seems that the site focused too much on its internal changes and raised terrace gimmick and failed to address the inherent issues. Here I will attempt to break down the reasons for the failing of this site, to further understand what makes a successful regeneration.
Despite claims made by Urban Splash of affordability, this scheme remained much more expensive than the previous offer at an average price of £120,000. This led to a small-scale gentrification whereby local people could not afford to live in this new development, which in turn developed into animosity towards the new residents, almost in their own island.
This isolation was not helped by the design. Maintaining the original street patterns led to an impermeable grain, central terraces while a strong theoretical approach to generating community resulted instead in semi-private spaces for only residents, at the expense of the public main streets which saw no design focus. This formed an insular design which failed to make the most of its streets as spaces for all, or links with surrounding communities.
Lack of Facilities
Although in initial documents Urban Splash proposed the park to the south of the site would be regenerated as well, this failed to materialise. Further to this the park is separated by a wall spanning the length of the site meaning access is unnecessarily difficult. No further public spaces or facilities were integrated into the design.
In my mind, Chimney Pot Park was a scheme too focused on its innovative design concept without consideration for the way in which this would address wider community issues. Like many projects it seems to have chased architectural recognition and immediate returns ahead of a strong basis in place making.
Sheerhout, J. (2017). “Residents leave landmark Salford regeneration project after rise in crime and vandalism” Manchester Evening News. Accessed 20/05/19. Available at: https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/residents-leave-landmark-salford-regeneration-13742443
Urban Splash. (2007). Chimney Pot Park. Accessed 20/05/19. Available at: https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/us-website-content/Downloads/chimney-pot-park/CHIM_DIGI.pdf