The ancient Victorian railway structure, made of cast iron and steel, is now a “sky park”, a green space in the heart of the city, accommodating the Museum of Science and Industry and an events area.
Abandoned since the closure of Manchester Central Station in 1969, the listed Castlefield Viaduct was once used to transport goods in and out of this large city in the north of England.
A natural haven in the sky
In order to demonstrate how Manchester industrial heritage could be preserved, while incorporating nature , the National Trust commissioned the restoration to the London studio Twelve Architects. Inspired by the High Line in New York, this ‘sky park’ transforms the venerable Victorian cast iron and steel railway structure into a hospitable green space in the cultural heart of the city.
“We want to encourage visitors to discover and appreciate this special space, which pays homage to the classic industrial structure that has shaped the history of this area,” said Matt Cartwright, Director at Twelve Architects. Its designers are also keen for this to serve as a catalyst in making green spaces more enjoyable for pedestrians and cyclists in the city.
A walk in honour of the city’s industrial past
Developed by landscapers from the National Trust, the project guides visitors along the traces of Manchester’s industrial past: from the viaduct, walkers can see the old cotton warehouses, now renovated and transformed into offices or trendy bars, coal sheds, ancient locks, plus Street Art frescoes that add the post-industrial ambiance. The many plants and shrubs in the reddish tempered-steel planters are a reminder of Manchester’s rich heritage.
The Museum of Science and Industry, and an events space with a window framing the intact parts of the viaduct will also enhance the venue. The Castlefield Viaduct Sky Park is currently only open for one year, but the National Trust has launched a fundraiser to make it a permanent Manchester attraction. In the meantime, the place is welcoming a hundred daily visitors. Access is free upon reservation.