It’s time to change things up and I’m starting with ‘that wall’.
Piccadilly Gardens has had an interesting evolution over the last 4 centuries. It’s been forever changing, from an ornamental pond, to the Manchester Royal Infirmary, to a regional transport hub and to the Gardens we often reminisce about today. Now it’s a space that combines a garden (of sorts), office space and the Piccadilly Bus Station. This naturally ignites its own unique problems that the authorities have to deal with.
I’m a believer that our built environment, everything from the buildings around us to the materials used for paving, has a powerful influence about how we as people behave in those environments. If we want Piccadilly Gardens to be a space for Mancunians to enjoy safely, the materials we use for the gardens need to reflect our desires and wants for the space.
The 130 metre long cold concrete wall was designed by Tadao Ando, a Japanese architect. It has a brutalist architectural style which has been engulfed in controversy since it was built in 2002. The aim of the wall was to shield the Gardens from the transport interchange, acting as a physical barrier to the noise pollution, but does nothing to tackle the air pollution generated by the buses.
I plan to change that. I’m campaigning for the wall, all of the wall, to be transformed into a vertical garden, or more commonly known as, a living green wall. Green walls are used across the globe, even in Manchester, to drastically improve areas and add different dimensions to nature and green spaces. But having a green living wall is not the magic wand to resolving issues generated from Piccadilly Gardens, but it is a step in the right direction.
With the help of Mancunians, I believe we can make this happen and contribute to resolving anti- social behaviour, high levels of air pollution whilst continuing to keep a barrier between the gardens and the interchange.
If you want to help and get involved, contact your local Councillors, speak to your family, friends and neighbours about this idea. If you have any other ideas, share them with me and Manchester. Together I believe we can help to fix Piccadilly Gardens.
Jon-Connor Lyons – Piccadilly Labour Councillor