Welcome to the Manchester high line

Manchester castlefield viaduct

The news broke a while ago about turning the Castlefield Viaduct into its own High line public garden.

Its a great idea and to be honest I wondered for almost decade why it had not happened already. The disused bridge was growing wild for a long time but was far enough away from the train and tram bridge to cause no problems. Even getting on to the bridge was pretty simple except the artificial barrier blocking the way.

Castlefield is a good place to be when its sunny in Manchester and the planned garden is going to be quite something and I’m just glad its going to be public not some private space for footballers and the wealthy.

The virtual public space is like the park?

Trees in Whitworth Park in Moss Side, Manchester, UK

Eli Pariser posted a fascinating piece in Wired magazine just recently.

“We need public spaces, built in the spirit of Walt Whitman, that allow us to gather, communicate, and share in something bigger than ourselves.

As we head into the most consequential, contentious election in our history, it’s time to fix some of the structural problems that led us to this moment. Let’s face it: Our digital public sphere has been failing for some time. Technologies designed to connect us have instead inflamed our arguments and torn our social fabric.

Eli goes on to talk about public spaces using the analogy of public parks rather than private gardens. This is something which many has talked about and we had planned to build at Mozilla Festival the year we built the connected library.

Now, accelerated by the pandemic, we spend much of our time living and conversing with others in a different location: digital space. But social media and messaging platforms weren’t designed to serve as public spaces. They were designed to monetize attention.

Much of our communal life now unfolds in digital spaces that feel public but are not. When technologists refer to platforms like Facebook and Twitter as “walled gardens”—environments where the corporate owner has total control—they’re literally referring to those same private pleasure gardens that Whitman was reacting to. And while Facebook and Twitter may be open to all, as in those gardens, their owners determine the rules.

I like the points made why venture backed platforms (private gardens) are awful public spaces. In short I see it like this…

On Growth. I was listening to Team Human with Marina Gorbis & Douglas Rushkoff with a strong statement of scale is the enemy of humanity. On friction parks are messy because they are used by different people in different ways Private/walled gardens are predestine, they have house rules. These rules are set by the owner. Public parks are owned by the public and there is a democratic way to set the ground rules.

I found the post is clever to call out public institutes like libraries, schools, etc. My only issue is this is all very american, which has its own unique cultural differences.


Ironically the physical public spaces talked about in the article are under massive threat. For example I live in central Manchester and I’m lucky to have a good size community garden but there is also two large spaces within 2 mins walk from me. Ok the central retail park isn’t really a park but currently being used a covid19 testing space and the other one is the New Islington green which is currently under treat to be built on.

If we haven’t learned anything about the natural/physical environment, I wonder what hope we may have for the digital world? Oh and I found the Guardian opinion piece quite good too.

Community parks for the community of inner Manchester


Cities are always in flux however, our values/needs as humans don’t flux so much. Green space is important to us, even a total city boy like myself loves green nature space at times. This is beyond gentrification and more about city planning. Something Jane Jacobs knows plenty about.

Its clear green spaces are essential and lets say Manchester like London doesn’t have a lot of them. There’s got to be a connections between the mental health epidemic and the state of our biggest cities.

There are 3 spaces in the very local area which have been marked for building of some kind of redevelopment.

  1. Former Central Retail Park Great Ancoats Street Manchester M4 6DJ
  2. Green space at New Islington tram stop
  3. Mayfield train depot park plans


I joined the talk yesterday at Central Retail park

From friends of the earth Northern Quarter

Currently Manchester City Council plans to turn the old Central Retail Park on Great Ancoats Street into a 440 space carpark with the application going to planning on 22nd August, we have until 17th August to make our voice heard.

This is a 10.5 acre space, half the size of Whitworth Park.

There will around 1000 cars moving in and out onto already busy Great Ancoats Street. This will increase pollution including known carcinogens such as Nitrogen Dioxide, in a city of appalling childhood asthma rates and one which consistently ranks amongst the worst air quality in Europe.

This space is right next door to a Primary School.

This seems in total contradiction of Manchester’s campaign for clean air when Manchester City Council has declared a Climate Emergency.

Legally the land is owned by Manchester City Council making it public property, meaning you can walk on it. The fence around the old units is fenced off and there is a security which keep an eye on the space; but the advice from the talks was to build a park on top of whats there already.

Currently the plan is to use the space to show potential use. Events, guerrilla gardening, market, skateboard park, etc. I’ve already been thinking about a massive community bring your own BBQ type event – if I could sort out the toilets?

Anyway you can learn more at treesnotcars.com, and if you get a chance do drop in and see the space and the chalked ideas people have for it.


Islington wharf without water

GVA Islington Wharf sign in the lift

I have no words to explain what on earth is going on in Islington Wharf right now…

There was a problem with the water supply a while ago in April. GVA (the management agency) tried to fix it but something needed replacing which required the water to be turned off in Block B (125 apartments).  I was in Copenhagen when this happened so I came back and everything was the same as before, except when I turned on the tap to wash a glass – It blew out so quick it took the glass out of my hand and broke in the sink.

A few days goes by and its clear something is not right…

GVA Islington Wharf sign in the lift

I and others spotted and reported a massive pool of water in the ground floor stairwell. It seemed to be running down the inside of the stairwell. Anyway before long GVA posted notes saying they were having to turn off the water not during the day like before but during the whole day and night. This was about Thursday. then it was communicated things were still not right and that would mean another 24hours of no water. 2 days of no water!

And when I say no water I mean absolutely no water from any taps in the flat. Yes no washing up, no dishwasher and no loo flash water. Luckily I tend to have a jug of water in the fridge and my kettle was full.

Anyway by Friday (today) it was posted around that not only will the water be off but it will be off till Tuesday evening…!

I was moaning before, but till Tuesday? over the May bank holiday! Well thanks… What a wonderful bank holiday weekend most of the people in Islington wharf will have… Here’s what GVA left us all under our doors, on the forums and facebook.

Water for Islington Wharf


As you will be aware we have been working to try and resolve a problem with the mains water supply to the building. Following a review on site today and based on specialist advice we have received, we do not propose to undertake another temporary repair due to the risk of failure and health and safety implications if water should escape into the electrical intake room.

Contingency Plan

We have arranged for 3,000 bottles of fresh water to be delivered to site so there is 6 bottle of water by each apartment front door and there are spare bottles in the block B entrance. All other building systems will operate normally.  A full permanent repair has been authorised and this will be completed on Tuesday.  Our current information is that all residents will be able to return to their apartments on Tuesday evening.

Now bear in mind we’ve been told it will be fixed by a certain date a couple times before, I’m not feeling too confident about Tuesday evening.

To be frank I’m peeded off but I like many others haven’t really got anyone to blame or shout at. Yes we could shout at GVA or ISIS (the company who actually own the building and employee GVA as management agents) but its actually not there fault. They have been good (not perfect but good for once). Early in the week, we had a toilet in the caretaker office and a tap in the bin store to keep us fresh?

GVA and ISIS offered us the ability to stay in a hotel down the road near Piccadilly but for myself this is almost pointless. Instead I’m trying to get conformation about the costs, so I can head down to Bristol and just get away. And thats how I and maybe many others just feel like.

Its all the small things which you forget like water to brush your teeth, toilet water to flush, water to clean the dishes, water to clean our clothes. If the water doesn’t come back on Tuesday night, it will be almost a week without water. This is bad bad news and to be honest if you were in my position you would also be peed…!

Won’t even remind you about the state of our garden right now too…

The walls of our garden

The walls of our garden

Yes the wall fell down and there is now a massive 2 story drop into a carpark…

You can can’t help but feel like the whole place is falling apart…!


The water was turned back on Tuesday evening at about 5pm, and work has started to fix the 2 story drop down to the carpark. ISIS and GVA can count themselves very lucky they didn’t end up all over the BBC news site like this almost exact carbon copy event in Yorkshire. Although it was for about double the amount of people and they were much more organised and took advantage of the open web. No point in moaning about it on a closed Facebook group, nothing will change and your also playing into there hands because no one else can see the problem.