Tag Archives: campus

White elephant?

Thursday 19th November 2020, 9.35am (day 3,374)

Oddfellows Hall & MECD, 19/11/20

The vast MECD, or Manchester Engineering Campus Development, is pretty much finished. In embryonic form it was first depicted way back in early January 2018. It now dwarfs the old Oddfellows Hall, which it has part-swallowed, yet what you see rising here is only a small part of the whole.

Thing is — and I am very sure that, having spent hundreds of millions of pounds on this new plaything, the senior management of UoM are keenly aware of this point — is this now the whitest and most mammoth of white elephants? And what of all the blocks of new student accommodation, and hotels, and office blocks, and all the other city-centre property developments that global capital has been poured into over the last decade or so? If you think the economy’s taken a Covid hit thus far, wait for the whole global commercial property market to go tits-up. This piece of economic elastic does not have infinite tolerance. I predict we’ll be coaxed back out into our offices soon enough: if not, they’ll hear the crash on Pluto.

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Halls of (permanent) residence

Tuesday 3rd November 2020, 12.05pm (day 3,358)

The fact that I am still going to campus, and intend to go two or three days a week through November, suggests that ‘lockdown’ as a concept is an even bigger con this time round than it was in March. The students in this hall have paid great sums of money and — in many cases — travelled thousands of miles to be in Manchester, but we can’t even see them from across a twenty-foot room. What do we do about it? I dunno, disobey somehow. At least the leaves are still just about hanging on.

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Joe’s tour of inspection

Saturday 17th October 2020, 10.55am (day 3,341)

Joe inspects Staffs Uni, 17/10/20

Astonishing as this may seem, our Joe is now at the stage where he is putting together applications for university in 2021-22. Staffordshire University, in Stoke-on-Trent, is on the list, but all any of them can offer at the moment are ‘virtual open days’ which provide info, sure, but not a feeling for the place. And that’s essential if you’re going to spend three years anywhere. So we arranged for our own little tour of inspection today, both of the campus and the city. And despite it being dead, like the set of a post-apocalypse movie dead — the campus tour did not seem to be offputting. Perhaps then we will be seeing more of this place in the future.

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Bike rack, underused

Tuesday 6th October 2020, 2.10pm (day 3,330)

This idea of ‘underuse’ has been a recurring theme lately — but there are obvious reasons for that, and it is going to become even more the case now that uni have decided that, after all, they would rather not teach face-to-face, ‘at least’ until the end of October. Which is, conveniently, after everyone’s arrived and paid their rent. Don’t blame me — I oppose the decision, and rather vehemently too. But it seems this opinion is now in the minority.

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Going to waste

Wednesday 16th September 2020, 10.50am (day 3,310)

Fallen apples, 16/9/20

This little stand of apple trees outside the Ellen Wilkinson Building on campus sees its crop go mostly to waste even in a normal year. And as it is right now, the whole campus is neglected and starting to rot away. Such a waste.

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Pondering the future

Tuesday 30th June 2020, 11.20am (day 3,232)

Pondering, 30/6/20

First trip to campus since March 8th, which as it was a Sunday, already had a desolate, end-of-the-world feel about it that the subsequent closure has cemented in place. On the few days over lockdown that I have visited, all of the city of Manchester has seemed like a coma patient. There is a certain amount of internal activity, things moving around from place to place, but there’s no real life or consciousness to it. This guy looks very much like he’s pondering his future and so should we all. Plants are doing well, though.

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On campus (with optical illusion)

Monday 6th January 2019. 2.05pm (day 3,056)

Campus optical illusion, 6/1/20

A Manchester shot for the first time since December 19th. I must be showing my face on campus again. I like it when there’s nobody there. I only went in, basically, to up my step count.

There is a nice optical illusion on fhis shot. Look at the three pieces of guttering to the right and note how we seem here to have one of those ‘can this shape exist?’ dimensional paradoxes. I know how it’s happened, but it’s not immediately obvious on the picture itself.

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On campus (early, and wet)

Tuesday 12th November 2019, 8.10am (day 3,001)

Campus Greenhouse 12/11/19

I do still turn up on campus now and again but because of the increasingly painful train journey that it takes to get there — and, just as importantly, back — I am trying to do so less and less. Rainy mornings (which lead to me smelling damp all day) are no help either. But every so often I have little choice.

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The Old Quadrangle

Tuesday 14th May 2019, 2.20pm (day 2,819)

Old Quadrangle, 14/5/14

Even Manchester’s crowded, fully urban campus can crank up the architecture quotient now and again, especially on a sunny May day. The Beyer Building and its cloak of ivy have featured before. My only day on campus this week, so I’m glad it was a pleasant one.

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The IG Farben Building

Friday 10th May 2019, 5.55pm (day 2,815)

IG Farben building, 10/5/19

At one point during the conference I was attending at the Goethe University in Frankfurt today, there were vague references to ‘our famous building’ that drifted through my Friday consciousness but didn’t take hold. Then, on my way back into the city centre afterwards, I saw the building.

The IG-Farbenhaus has had a chequered history to say the least. HQ to the eponymous company, when built in the 1920s it was the biggest office building in Europe and remained so for thirty years. IG Farben manufactured the world’s first antibiotic — and also the gas that was used in the Nazi concentration camps. After the war the USA used it as a military base — the ‘Pentagon of Europe’; following German reunification ownership passed to the state of Hesse who renovated it and then helped the Goethe-Institut build a new campus around it from 2001 onwards. And all set in parkland (kept free of development by the Americans for security reasons) right in the city centre.

I’m sure this photo doesn’t do the architecture full justice, but what the hell, the sun looks good too.

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