“…… a remarkable commitment of care and skill by the architect, client and community in a design-led participatory process which gave tenants the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of the design. The character of the buildings and the public spaces presents a ‘cityscape’ of outstanding quality and is proof of the significant contribution of participatory design in the creation of good housing and real places which go beyond the stereotype”. RIBA Assessor, Geoffrey Darke.
OMI’s early work in housing and masterplanning can be traced back to this seminal project in Hulme, on the edge of Manchester’s City Centre. This politically supported initiative challenged the car-orientated, low density, suburban solutions that prevailed in the early 1990s. OMI transformed a former no-go area of crime and depravation into a thriving neighbourhood, where families now choose to live.
The project received an RIBA Award for Design Excellence, two Housing Design Awards, Civic Trust Commendation and TEPAS Award for community consultation.
Completed in 1997 and funded under Michael Heseltine’s City Challenge Initiative, OMI worked with Guinness Trust to create a sustainable community of 170 houses and flats, local shops, an Estate Office and a Community Centre. Design principles were established at Hulme that have since become recognised as basic good practice for urban development in the UK.
An extensive design-led participatory process gave residents the opportunity to be involved at all stages and resulted in a strong sense of belonging and ownership on the part of the local community. These strategies for successful place making and enriched neighbourhoods have fundamentally influenced OMI’s later work.