News | Friday, 13th October 2017

Lecturer launches guidebook to history of Greater Manchester's modern architecture

Manchester MODERN was a labour of love

Richard Brook's Manchester MODERN book
Richard Brook's Manchester MODERN book

An architecture lecturer’s guidebook to the history of modern architecture in Greater Manchester has finally been published following a successful crowdfunding campaign.

The coffee table book, Manchester MODERN, was a 20-year labour of love for Richard Brook, Principal Lecturer in Architecture at the Manchester School of Architecture, jointly run by Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Manchester.

Richard Brook, Principal Lecturer in Architecture, with his book Manchester MODERN

It contains pictures and details of 111 buildings and structures around the region and has been published in a limited run by the Modernist Society following a crowdfunding campaign to cover production costs that drew donations from the likes of the society's patron, the musician Johnny Marr.

Manchester MODERN has been illustrated and designed in intricate detail by artist and designer Vaseem Bhatti and one of the three editions has a unique concrete cover that includes ground up material recovered from the rubble of demolished Rochdale Bus Station, which is featured in the book but was razed during production.

See a selection of images:

'It's a great object'

Richard said: "I got my hands on a lovely little architecture guidebook to Manchester by Dennis Sharp from 1969 and it has been my aim ever since to make something as memorable and enduring.

"I think that the amount of mileage, time and 35mm film I put into the project has been more than matched by Bhatti’s attention to detail – it’s a great object.”

The long overdue launch event took place at LEAF on Portland Street in Manchester on October 12 with a performance of - what else? - musique concrète by Conor Thomas of Boomkat.

Close-up of the book

Modernist Society co-founder Jack Hale said: "We were beginning to wonder if Manchester MODERN would ever be ready for launch.

"Richard has dedicated much of his spare time over the 20 years researching and photographing this book and so we wanted to make sure the design did him justice.

"I think we can safely say after the stressful few months we’ve just had that the end result will definitely be worth it.”

The coffee table book as a concrete cover

Richard began taking scouting and photographing buildings of interest in 1996 and he was spurred on by both Dennis Sharp's guidebook and a full set of the editions of the journal Architecture North West, which ran from 1963 to 1969.

He said: "My work centres on the everyday production of, what I term, 'mainstream modernism'.

"I'm interested in what everyday architecture has to say about society more generally and I'm especially fascinated with the period 1960 to 1974.

"The work of city and county architects is important in this schema - these types of posts no longer exist in the public sector - and I'm also concerned with cities that are not the capital.

"My investigation of these areas is opening up new narratives about the relationship between the state and architecture between 1945 and 1980.

"Manchester MODERN is a book that captures these interests."

See more of Richard's photos and commentary at

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