The significance of Castlefield locally, nationally and internationally is well documented. Attaining significance with the early Roman settlement when the fort was constructed on the red sandstone outcrop, Castlefield became once again important in transportation terms during the Industrial Revolution with various levels of canals, rivers, roads and railways criss-crossing the area.Yet whilst the heart of the area has a physical presence to Deansgate and, indeed, a broader intellectual presence, this infrastructure, together with its topography has made physical links with the remainder of the City difficult.
The development site, referred to as Castlefield Junction, is crossed by Grade II Listed viaducts which carry both rail and Metrolink systems. In between Pioneer Quay, a landscaped area, engages with Deansgate and the Rochdale canal to the east and south respectively. Disconnected from this is the former Southern and Darwant’s timber yard, beneath which is located the perimeter wall of the Roman fort.
Residual buildings / land by way of Southern and Darwants saw mill and the former Onward Workshops site lie beyond the viaducts and connect the development site with the wider context. There exists an apparent impermeability but yet an urban richness.
Broadly, the competition proposals were to convert the arches for ‘village facilities’ to support the recent remarkable growth of residential development in the City, namely a convenience store, post office, pharmacy, doctor’s surgery, creche and the like. These were arranged around Pioneer Quay, and the former timber yard was reconfigured to become a new civic space and, via the enclosing retail outlets and new alleyways, reconnected to the city fabric.
A boutique hotel, offices and A3 units were located at the periphery and, indeed, as part of the viaduct to further encourage the reconnection.