Medieval Quarter & Glade of Light Memorial Garden Opens to Public
The first of a series of public realm improvements set within Manchester’s Medieval Quarter has been completed, transforming one of the City’s most historic areas, whilst retaining the charm and character loved by locals and visitors alike.
The regeneration works centre around The Glade of Light, a memorial garden providing a place to honour the 22 victims of the 2017 Manchester Arena terror attack, which opened earlier this week and is now accessible for people to visit and pay their respects.
With our team appointed by Galliford Try as Civil Engineers on the project, construction work began in March last year on the first phase of a three-phase programme, with us working alongside Architects, Planit-IE, BCA Landscape, Consultants Arup, Deloitte, and Salford Archaeology.
The first phase encompasses Victoria Street and is bounded by Manchester Cathedral, Chetham’s School of Music, the River Irwell, and Cathedral Gardens. The closure of Victoria Street was trialled by Manchester City Council in early 2012, with the intention of creating a Piazza to the Cathedral and celebrating the area’s rich cultural and historical significance, with the added benefit of reducing traffic within this busy part of the city. Victoria Street was then temporarily pedestrianised until recently, with interim measures introduced such as concrete blocks, raised planters and other surface features to prevent vehicle access.
The Medieval Quarter regeneration aims to bring new pedestrian links between Victoria Station, Manchester Arena, Cathedral Gardens and Deansgate, with pleasant green spaces to create a more welcoming and user-friendly frontage to Manchester Cathedral.
The rich cultural and historical significance became apparent during survey and investigation works which highlighted buried catacombs beneath Victoria Street, formally linked to the Cathedral. There was also a requirement for an archaeological watching brief during construction works. In addition to the buried catacombs, other design and engineering challenges were raised such as existing services and the Victoria Street retaining wall anchor blocks which placed some restrictions on the depths of excavation work, positions of trees and structures.
The Glade of Light memorial garden, the centre of the Medieval Quarter regeneration works, is home to a large marble Halo, which provides a beautiful garden space to honour the 22 victims of the Manchester Arena terror attack. The Halo contains sealed memory capsules to capture memories and mementos of loved ones. The development comprises several areas of tree and shrub planting, containing UK native plant species that aim to create a tranquil space for remembrance and reflection. The aspirations of MCC and the design team to provide a sustainable drainage system were realised through the use of rain gardens, combined with the planting areas, to treat and reduce surface water run-off. Flows into the public sewer were reduced by re-using an existing surface water outfall into the River Irwell.
With the regeneration now complete and open for public use, we are proud to have been a part of such a prestigious project for the city and look forward to the people of Manchester being able to enjoy this special place once again.