Working at Mayfield Park: Where out of the box thinking is part of the job
What’s it like to work on Manchester’s first city centre park in 100 years? We’ve gone behind the scenes with the project team to ask them. First up, Tomascz Lukasewicz, Associate at Civic Engineers.
What is your role at Mayfield Park?
Civic Engineers was appointed to Mayfield Park as both structural and civil engineers, as well as lead designer. With a talented team of graduates and designers working with me, I’m responsible for the technical management of our work on the project and I’m personally responsible for the design of the jettys and bridges. It’s been a great learning curve for me, overseeing all of the structural works – including the remedial works to existing walls and a range of retaining structures to name a few. I’ve been overseeing delivery of our substructure designs to the incredible Playtowers, every concrete element, steps, seats and all remedial works, and have been loving the experience and journey so far.
What does your typical day look like?
Usually, I’ll have between four and five meetings and some of those will include a site visit. We’re fortunate that our studio is very close to Mayfield Park, so we try to have a member of our team daily on site, although that isn’t always me. I like to get to the studio early, spend some time working my way through emails before the day really gets under way. Particularly on a job that moves as quickly as Mayfield, there can be many surprises throughout a normal day and so the design process needs to evolve very quickly. Every day is different and the variety is what makes me love the work that we do.
“Reusing ‘oddly shaped’ cast iron beams showcases the real out-of-the-box thinking that has been present throughout the project”
What makes this project different to other projects you’ve worked on?
As Manchester city centre’s first new public park in more than 100 years, it truly is a once in a lifetime project. From the sheer scale of the work involved, the high standards we are all holding ourselves to in delivering something so important, right through to the wider impact on the local community, it’s an iconic project that will transform this area of the city.
The approach to the park’s bridges has been very different, reusing ‘oddly shaped’ cast iron beams showcases the real out-of-the-box thinking that has been present throughout the project so far. It’s exciting for all of us to work on something so important to Manchester and its future and it’s very different to anything I’ve ever worked on. I really do feel it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.
What might people in other industries be surprised to hear about your role?
I think a lot of people would be surprised at the amount of creativity involved in our roles, especially projects such as Mayfield Park. From re-using and re-purposing existing buildings and materials to flipping the Stage 3 design on its head, we have the courage to approach the design from a completely new direction throughout the creative process. I think another surprising element could be our position as Lead Designer. this doesn’t tend to happen as engineers but I think our understanding of the site makes us best placed to lead and that’s something we are really enjoying and learning throughout.
Which element of the park are you most excited about?
Selfishly I’d say the bridges. They are so different, something so unique to this project and just a really innovative solution unlike anything I’ve seen before. The original beams being reused to construct the new bridges are over 180 years old. To see them being repurposed and displayed in such an iconic project is special. The bridges sit so well and align with the wider context of the site, and we ourselves at Civic Engineers are really passionate about reusing and repurposing materials on-site. It’s an element of the project we are particularly proud to be involved with. The age of the beams makes them difficult to design with, but a vital part of the project that is worth the challenges that come with them. The use of the beams exposes the River Medlock further, and it’s also really nice they are scattered throughout the park, with two beams used over both of the entrances as well.
I’m also looking forward to being able to enjoy the park with my own family and – once old enough – my baby daughter being able to play on the awe-inspiring playground. I’ll have an excuse to try out the slides and crawl tunnels with her!