Excerpt: Hulme Living Leaf Street Housing is a housing project designed by architectural firm Mecanoo is a fourth-generation urban renewal housing development that combines apartments and single-family homes in one building mass. The S-shape of the building creates two semi-enclosed public green spaces. The entrance court is turned to the Hulme Arch Bridge and has the character of a garden square. Facing Leaf Street is a park area where children can play.
[Text as submitted by architect] “Affordable housing was an essential statement of myself back in the 80s when we started Mecanoo; that affordable housing should also be beautiful and pleasant to live in. Though we changed our focus and mapped many other typologies over the years, affordable housing was as relevant as before. The present and the future are still about urban renewal. It’s the responsibility of the architect to address the needs in society” – Francine Houben.
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 infamous Hulme Crescents, the most prominent social housing project in the United Kingdom. In the 1990s, the ‘Crescents’ were demolished, and a large part of the neighbourhood was redeveloped. Hulme Living on Leaf Street is a fourth-generation urban renewal housing development that combines apartments and single-family homes in one building mass.
The plot borders the main access road to the neighbourhood and other buildings from Manchester Metropolitan University on the south-eastern side. Appropriate to this scale, the residential complex extends to five levels of apartments. The compact building volume meanders across the plot and gradually decreases in scale to the north. The three-storey family houses on this development side are on par with the adjacent 1930s dwellings. The brick building acts as a connecting element between the various structures bordering the plot.
Public green space
The S-shape of the building creates two semi-enclosed public green spaces. The entrance court is turned to the Hulme Arch Bridge and has the character of a garden square. Facing Leaf Street is a park area where children can play. The public spaces are connected via large gates in the building volume, marking the apartments’ entrances. The elegant shape of the complex preserved many existing trees on the plot. A wide variety of vegetation ensures that residents can experience all different seasons. Cycling paths and footpaths across the plot connect the existing infrastructure and informal
Walkways. The building complex and surrounding public space form one unified urban plan.