The area around Leaf Street in Hulme, just outside Manchester city centre, has a history of urban renewal. The typical Victorian terraced houses were demolished after World War II to make room for the Hulme Crescents, the infamous social housing project. In the 1990s a large part of the neighbourhood was redeveloped.
Mecanoo designed a fourth generation urban renewal housing development that combines apartments and single-family homes in one building mass. On the south-eastern side, the plot borders the main access road to the neighbourhood. Here, the residential complex extends to five levels of apartments. The compact brick building meanders across the plot, acting as a connecting element between the various structures bordering the plot while gradually decreasing in scale to the north.
The S-shape of the building creates two semi-enclosed public green spaces. The entrance court is turned to the city and has the character of a garden square. Facing the neighbourhood is a park area where children can play. The public spaces are connected to each other via large gates in the building volume, which also mark the entrances to the apartments.
Many existing trees on the plot will be preserved by the elegant shape of the complex. A wide variety of vegetation ensures that residents can experience all different seasons. Cycling paths and footpaths across the plot are connected to the existing infrastructure and informal walkways. This way, the building complex and its surrounding public space form one unified urban plan.