Heritage is an important factor in determining a Universities prestige. The atmospheric buildings of Oxford and Cambridge represent a large part of the appeal of their respective institutions. Salford, however, finds itself at a disadvantage here. It has been a University for less than thirty years and doesn't even have a heritage landmark tower like itís close rival Manchester University. But things could have been so different.
Early in the last century architect Charles Roodhouse drew up a proposal for a new Salford Town Hall on the site adjacent to the University in the bend of the River Irwell. Itís design was carefully calculated to impress from the nearby road which was already a major artery. However, the proposal was never came to fruition. Until now.
The Roodhouse building will be reconstiuted, unfolded and situated, pride of place upon the road that has now been conquered. It will act as an awesome spectacle for the thousands of drivers who pass underneath it each day. It will become synonymous with the image of Salford University and help increase the Heritage value of the institution.
The reconstituted tower will also reactivate the historic Albion Place to the south of the road by shielding the listed buildings from the road with a contextual screen , bringing a series of valuable buildings and spaces back into viable use.
Inside the tower an interlinked double staircase rises to the viewing platform high-above Salford. This allows one staircase for climbers and one for descenders, creating a procession or pilgrimage to the view over the city. Once at the top the view offers a dialogue with other local landmarks such as the Imperial War museum, Old Trafford and Manchester Town Hall.
The images to the right illustrate the structure at the centre of the tower. The double staircase is supported by two light walls facing that face in either direction which contain fluorescent lights behind coloured plastic.
The A6 is one of the busiest roads in the region and a sensor below the bridge will register as each vehicle passes by. These numbers are then translated into lights on the support panels within the tower. Therefore as the day passes more lights will turn one resulting with the tower being fully lit on a busy day by midnight, when the screen will be reset to start again the next day. Thus the tower becomes a glowing lantern as dusk falls (see image above) charting the volume of traffic that once detracted so greatly from the University campus.