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Imperial War Museum North | 55 metres | Trafford Whard Road

8932 Views 25 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  flange
just thought i'd add this in anticiptation of things hotting up in trafford.

IWM North named one of the top 10 buildings in latest Rough Guide to England

IWM North The multi-award winning Imperial War Museum North has been named one of the top 10 buildings in England of the last century in the latest Rough Guide to England.

Sitting alongside other architectural treasures across the length and breadth of the country, the full list (in date order of completion) is:

Anglican Cathedral, Liverpool (1904-78)
Senate House, Bloomsbury, London, 1932
De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, 1935
Tate Modern, London, 1948-63 & 2000
Coventry Cathedral, 1951-59
Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden, London, 1995
Eden Project, Cornwall, 2001
Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, 2002
30 St Mary Axe, London (“The Gherkin”), 2004
The Sage Gateshead, 2004

The new Rough Guide also states of Manchester “from engine of the Industrial Revolution to test-bed of contemporary urban design, the city has no realistic rival outside of London”.

Imperial War Museum North, recently crowned one of the top 3 Large Visitor Attractions in England in 2007, is 6 years old this July. In that time the Museum has welcomed over 1.6 million visitors of all ages from all over the world and won over 20 awards by bringing some of the Imperial War Museum’s exceptionally rich collections and innovative programmes to the North and, as a result, has received wide critical and public acclaim.

Imperial War Museum North was the first building in the UK by the internationally acclaimed architect, Daniel Libeskind, who has also recently been behind the Masterplan for the Ground Zero site in New York. Clad in aluminium, IWM North’s landmark building is a visionary symbol of the effects of war. The jagged shape of the Air Shard stands out of the Manchester skyline and signals the innovative approach of the entire project. The building is based on the concept of a world shattered by conflict, a fragmented globe reassembled in three interlocking shards. These shards represent conflict on land, in the air and on water. Visitors enter through the Air Shard, which is 55m high and open to the elements. It houses a viewing platform at 29m with spectacular views across the Manchester Ship Canal to Manchester city centre. The curved Earth Shard houses the main public areas of the Museum - the Main Exhibition Space and the Special Exhibitions Gallery. The Water Shard, overlooking the Manchester Ship Canal, The Lowry and the site for mediacity:uk, accommodates the 160-seat Café.
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About time too:

Daniel Libeskind's Imperial War Museum North is the focus of landscape competition

The Imperial War Museum North is hunting for a team to design a 'spectacular and dramatic' landscape around Daniel Libeskind's iconic Manchester landmark.

The museum has teamed up with the RIBA's Competitions Office to launch the competition aimed at revamping the areas next to the steel-clad building, which was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize in 2004.

With the imminent arrival of the BBC to MediaCity:UK on the opposite side of the Salford Quays, museum chiefs claim the time has come to 'capitalise on the internatinal focus...and create a distinctive destination and context' for Libeskind's £20 million attraction.

RIBA adviser for the contest Magie Mullan said: 'This is a unique opportuinty to create a singualer landscape for this singular building, responding to the changing physical, social and cultural context and enhancing the visitor experience [to the museum].'

The contest will be split in two stages with only the selected shortlist invited to come up with concept designs.

The deadline for submisions of interest is 23 October 2008. More information can be found at
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Agreed. There was supposed to be a Holocaust Centre sister building next to it but that never saw the light of day, presumably because of the lottery funding that was pulled? It's a truly fantastic building but far more could be made of it and its setting in particular.

Interesting to see the mention of the Stirling Prize shortlisting. I wonder just how many awards this building would have won if it were situated on the south bank of the Thames? Still, it should get more publicity once the BBC move in across the water.
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Imperial War Museum shortlist
Thursday, 04 December 2008

The shortlist to take part in a design competition to develop the external spaces to the Imperial War Museum North (IWMN) in Manchester has been announced.

The shortlisted practices are :

- Kinnear Landscape Architects, London, UK

- White Arkitekter AB, Goteborg, Sweden

- Patel Taylor Architects, London, UK

- Topotek 1, Berlin, Germany

- Field Operations, New York, USA

Following its announcement in September the competition attracted interest from all over the world, with 54 design teams applying to take part in the competition.

Maggie Mullan, RIBA Architectural Adviser to the competition said : "It was fantastic to get such international interest in this singular project. We are excited with the quality and range of teams we have shortlisted and we are looking forward to seeing their designs in the New Year".
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From the White Arkitekter website:

White’s team in the final battle for the War Museum in England
Av Peter Nilsson
Publicerad Wednesday 21 January, 2009.

Besides White, four other renowned international firms have been chosen by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), who are holding the competition. The remaining firms are: Kinnear Landscape Architects from London, Patel Taylor Architects, also from London, Topotek 1 from Berlin and Field Operations from New York.

“It’s obviously inspiring to be measured against such renowned opposition,” says Helena Bjarnegård at White in Göteborg, who’s in charge of the Swedish team. “All the candidates are really sharp in terms of creative, conceptual landscape architecture and it’ll be exciting to see the end result.”

The Imperial War Museum North in Manchester is the northern branch of the museum of the same name in London. The actual museum building was created by US architect Daniel Liebeskind, who’s responsible for designing the Jewish museum in Berlin and who also won the competition to design Ground Zero in Manhattan.

The Imperial War Museum North deals with people and the stories of how their lives were affected by war and conflict in different ways. The building has been designed to resemble remnants of an earth finally shattered by war to give a really brutal impression to say the least.

The museum plays a central role in the rejuvenation of the Quays dockland area alongside the Manchester Ship Canal, which is also home to the BBC’s new Broadcasting House. As the area enters its next phase, the environment around the War Museum will be given a new design to link to the content of the museum.
Maggie Mullan, RIBA’s architectural advisor to the competition, says: “It was fantastic to get so much major international response for this project.”

A hectic time now awaits Helena Bjarnegård and her team at White. The five finalists need to submit their proposals by 15 January and then be interviewed by the jury in Manchester at the beginning of February. In the meantime all proposals will be on show to the public.
Does anyone know where the finalists plans are on show at?
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I visited the museum today. I'd forgotten how ace it is! The hourly audio/visual shows are really good and the use of space is great.

Imperial War Museum North Seeks Your Views On Proposed External Development - 13 - 25 February 2009

Visitors to the multi-award winning Imperial War Museum North (IWMN) between Friday 13 and Wednesday 25 February will be able to view and give their feedback on 5 shortlisted design proposals to develop the external spaces of the Museum.

The shortlisted designs will be on display in the WaterShard Cafe between 10am and 5pm daily where visitors will be asked to complete feedback forms of their views. This feedback, together with further research will help inform a judging panel (made up of representatives from the RIBA and IWMN) who will meet in March.

The designs are initial concepts only and once a final proposal is selected IWMN will begin the task of fundraising and seeking partners to help realise the project. Once funding has been secured, the chosen design team will work closely with the Museum to develop the ideas and create the scheme. The development of the outside areas is aimed at completion before the opening of MediaCity:UK in 2011.

Continues Here...
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What do people think then?


Help decide IWMN's new outside

Concept A: Viral Landscape

"this will disseminate information, ideas and views throughout Manchester, stimulating wider debate about the museum and war, forging a strong presence for the museum in the city and raising its profile."

"The explosion of the museum has fractured a wheat field, making tilted golden planes and there’s an asphalt field, also shattered along its edges, a contemplative garden with a square of lawn and a majestic tree."

Concept B: Field Of Dreams

"It's ambiguous and suggestive, which dreams often are. It connects to the individual and reflects the multitude of emotions people experience when visiting the Imperial War Museum."

"It is multilayered and like nature it evolves over time. It is rich, dynamic and diverse but follows a structure offering clarity to people. Four green areas will offer places for individual reflection as well as places where friends can meet."

Concept C

"This design aims to enhance the building within its setting. The site boundaries are more welcoming and pleasurable with vertical gardens to the east and west perimeter, and a moat with bridges and reeds along the southern edge."

"Visitors are introduced to thematic and interpretive exhibits; given opportunities for quiet reflection and play; and interaction with multi-sensory installations that encourage memorable, poignant experiences that compliment the museum's message."

Concept D

"The camouflage patterns used by the military are an abstraction of landscapes of combat. These patterns represent a visual average of the natural environment."

"The idea is to confront the global scale of war represented by the building with the local scale where battles are fought. War does not only re-configure lines on a world map, but changes everyday landscapes."

Concept E: Reconnaissance Field

"Interactions – social, physical, intellectual and experiential – are fundamental not only to museums but to society more broadly. Interaction requires active effort, not simply passive reception."

"This proposes a highly interactive landscape, a field of discovery, hide-and-seek, movement and engagement. Ideas, information and activities are dispersed throughout the field in order that they may be found, interpreted and pieced together."
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I like the idea of concept A, but it would most likely just look like an over-grown field or wasteland. I think concpet D with all the blossom trees from concept B would be best, the way it steps down toward the water is really nice!
This is quite a harsh labelling of the IWMN, an excerpt from an article at

Recession architecture: 'the icon era is over'
13 March 2009
By Dan Stewart

And about time too, many will say. But the question is, what kind of architecture are we going to build in a time of recession? One thing’s for sure: there are going to be far fewer twisty, spiky, blobby towers going up


Places in the UK sought the Bilbao effect, but ended up building white elephants. Daniel Libeskind’s bombastic Imperial War Museum North in Salford, completed in 2002, is probably the most high-profile misfire. Will Alsop’s The Public, a £50m arts building in West Bromwich that has not opened nine months after completion, has already become synonymous with over-reaching regional ambition. Webb says the recession will effectively put an end to these sorts of projects.

“When you go to some of the provincial cities and see some of the buildings that have shot up there in recent years, it does make you wonder how they got built,” he says. “Those sorts of opportunities will disappear now, perhaps for good.”


Full article here...
Does it really symbolise THE most high profile 'misfire' of the boom era, a white elephant? I am certainly not aware of widespread derision...
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that's a load of bollocks that article...
indeed. i thought salford's "misfire" was the most visited museum in the country or something?
Awesome (+ Media City)!

(media City i the Background)

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I visited this place on Monday... great museum but can anyone tell me why there is a brail description of the buildings you can see from the observation deck? :nuts:

it seems a bit cruel

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Not quite sure what you mean Gherkin. Wouldn't a scenic description in braille be beneficial to blind persons? Why do you consider it cruel?

Unless I'm missing your point completely.
It just seems cruel telling a blind person all the things they can't see from an 'observation' deck... A similar scenario would be a deaf person reading about what they're hearing at a concert. Neither make sense :nuts:
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