Stevenson Square The Concept

Public Squares are a hugely important part of a city’s fabric, reflecting an area’s identity and providing much needed social spaces for interaction and recreation. The infrastructure-dominated Stevenson Square is failing in these respects to the point that it isn’t even read as a Square. This is despite the 18th Century developer’s aim to create a rival to city centre St Anne’s Square, which it reflects in form and scale; and its historical use as a meeting point for the city’s political marches, protests and gatherings.

Despite the predominance of roadway today, people are doing what they can to humanise, activate and make Stevenson Square their own – yet it could be so much more.

Through the National Trust’s Ladies’ Room event on Saturday 28 March, part of the Radical Manchester Wonder Women festival, we challenged people to consider how Stevenson Square can better express today’s society and reflect the Northern Quarter’s independent and spontaneous nature.

Elbow’s hang out and recently vacated local institution, Koffee Pot, provided the venue for a presentation by Stephen O’Malley of Civic Engineers in collaboration with Planit-IE’s very own Wonder Women, Rose Barton and Camille Galland. ‘Stevenson Square The Concept’ suggested how the space could be reimagined to create a non-prescribed canvas for creativity and a platform for expression of the area’s quirky character.

Rose and Camille took a fresh look at how the square could be recreated as a shared space; where routes bleed into the square, helping traffic to navigate rather than drive through. Trees could guide use and, with overhead catenary lighting, define spaces without hindering access. A range of quality materials and interesting interfaces, plus street art could personalise the continually changing space. Adding a free pop-up library,  gathering points or gallery to the mix will activate the space to create a vibrant hub within the Northern Quarter.

A visualisation of the reimagined Square shows the amount of space which could be freed up for people to use and enjoy – A Place for People.