Peter Saville helps open up museum’s industrial heritage

Walker Simpson Architects worked with designer Peter Saville to create a new set of gates for the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. The result aims to strip back the look of the site to its industrial past, and incorporates a distinctive diagonal band into the design

Walker Simpson Architects worked with designer Peter Saville to create a new set of gates for the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. The result aims to strip back the look of the site to its industrial past, and incorporates a distinctive diagonal band into the design…

Last year Walker Simpson was commissioned to undertake a ‘public realm study’ for MOSI as the area around the museum had become cluttered, with much of its pre-20th-century industrial form hidden by signage (shown below).

The new MOSI gates installed

The same area before the new work was carried out

The resulting work opens up the site and increases its impact at street level – sheets of clear glass, banded with a diagonal stripe, “frame” key views of the travelling gantry by the museum’s Power Hall and the Grade 1 listed warehouse from 1830, according to the architects. The frames which hold the glass are also reflective (see below).

But the graphic element to the system is what ties everything together. And as a motif of the city’s industrial heritage, it is also clearly the stamp of the city’s most well known designer.

“The diagonal stripe cutting through the panels has a strong affinity with Manchester,” say Walker Simpson. “Three diagonal lines feature in Manchester’s coat of arms representing the city’s three rivers, the Irk, the Medlock and the Irwell. At Factory Records, Ben Kelly and Peter Saville appropriated the diagonal as an industrial hazard sign on to the dancefloor at the Haçienda.”

As simple a gesture as the diagonal mark is, it’s also a thoughtful reference to both Manchester’s industrial and cultural history.

More on the Museum of Science and Industry at mosi.org.uk. Walker Simpson Architects’ site is walkersimpson.com

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