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Isca Wines, the first pop-up of our Summer Garden Series!

Posted on: June 3rd, 2021 by caroline@kampus-mcr.co.uk

We’re delighted to announce the opening of our gardens with a summer series of food and drink pop-ups, championing independents of Manchester.

It kicks off with a residency from Isca Wines, the renowned Levenshulme based natural wine bar, who are taking over the Manchester garden neighbourhood from 11th June at 5pm.

Isca Wines was created by sommelier Caroline Dubois and Chef Isobel Jenkins – who met while working at famed Stockport restaurant Where The Light Gets In – and have pioneered natural wines and ethically sourced produce in Manchester.

The duo will be offering up the best in natural wines to guests, seated right next to the canal, surrounded by the lush green surroundings of the Kampus garden. Visitors can also enjoy a glass (or bottle) in the Kampus Bungalow, an ex-security cabin on stilts that has been transformed into a village hall for pop ups and community uses.

The wine list will feature a carefully curated mix of ‘old world’ natural wines from small producers in Europe. They will sit alongside a selection of beers from independent breweries, house homemade soft drinks and organic small plates including British and Irish farmhouse cheeses. Tunes will be courtesy of one woman funk force DJ Ailsa of Living Room Dance Club who will be serving up summer vibes. It will be open Friday and Saturdays for two weekends from 11th June. And if you fall in love with the natural wine there’s a  bottle shop for takeaways.

Caroline, Co-Founder of Isca said: “We’ve always had lots of demand in the city centre and Kampus is the perfect location for us to bring the natural wine experience. We’re working with some niche winemakers and local producers so the independent vibe Kampus is creating really appealed to us. People don’t realise that most supermarket wine has never been touched by a human hand and we want to tell the story of some amazing natural wines from the handpicked grapes to the incredible taste.”

The history behind Kampus

Posted on: November 23rd, 2020 by kampusAdmin

There was once a Scottish man who marched into Manchester in a uniform – he wasn’t in the army, he just thought he looked pretty sexy in a uniform – married a widowed landowner 40 years older than him and along the way got himself the nickname Spanking Roger.

That was Roger Aytoun who, with his wife Barbara Minshull, owned a lot of the land that Kampus now sits on. He had the mildly bad habit of squandering all his wife’s wealth on wine, women and recruitment. He roamed the streets of Manchester recruiting sparring partners to his personal regiment by brawling in pubs. If the fight was won, the loser had to join his regiment, gaining Aytoun his nickname of ‘Spanking Roger’. He didn’t lose often (until he drank and gambled his wealth away and scurried back north).

Hilarious (or tragic) as all that is, it’s part of our history. Walk around the city and you’ll walk down Aytoun Street or Minshull Street, so we didn’t want to lose those bits of the past when we set about creating Manchester’s newest neighbourhood.

Once home to some of Manchester’s dirtiest and darkest slums, the area was transformed during the commercial boom of the Victorian era. The echoes of its industrial past can still be seen in the two listed Victorian warehouses, Minto & Turner and Minshull House, built in the 1870s to store and pack cotton. They’re being converted into loft apartments, leaving lots of that great brickwork and timber exposed, an enduring legacy of the cottonopolis and Manchester’s reinvention.

And then there’s the 1960s tower block. Plenty of people have asked us why we didn’t just bulldoze it. But we love the brutalist architecture which is part of Manchester’s story – and buildings like this will be the listed buildings of the future. Imagine if, after the war, the city had demolished our iconic Town Hall like it had planned? Or what if we got rid of all our historic mills? It would be unthinkable.

If we erased our 60s history, we’d lose our most recent stories. We’d lose part of the connection with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), which was based there. We’d lose Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving to a Pict. The actual animals would probably be fine, but we’d lose the connection with Pink Floyd, who had a song with that name on their wildly experimental album Ummagumma, which was partly recorded in that same MMU building.

But that doesn’t mean we’re overcome with nostalgia. Kampus is here to be new – to introduce new things to Manchester, to introduce lush greenery and more open spaces where people can come and chill out. We want to fill our spaces with up-and-coming brands that are growing locally. We want to create a new community. And we don’t have to compromise. At Kampus, you’ll be able to grab a pint with your mates and rest easy knowing that, once, a guy wandered these same streets, trying to look fit in a uniform – and his name was Spanking Roger.

How our garden grows

Posted on: November 23rd, 2020 by kampusAdmin

Co-creators Adam Higgins at Capital&Centric and Adam Brady at HBD tell us about the garden neighbourhood that’s right at the heart of Kampus.

As well as being – soon, oh so soon – home to new residents, Kampus is set to become a destination in its own right, thanks to a central garden surrounded by independent cafes, bars, restaurants and shops. It’s an ethos – green, independent, design-led at heart – set by the two developers behind Kampus: Capital&Centric and HBD. “A lot of new developments are selling an ‘exclusive’ lifestyle, but for us it’s always been about making Kampus inclusive,” says HBD’s Adam Brady. “Yes, there’ll be a community of over 1,000 people living there, but they’re not going to be living in a bubble. We’re creating a bustling neighbourhood that’ll be open to anyone. And loads of open spaces where you can come and eat your sandwiches at lunchtime, read a book or meet your mates for a beer.”

The brands that will fill those spaces will be as exciting and varied as Kampus itself, with as many independents and trailblazers as possible. “The commercial and outdoor space will set the tone, so we’ve been handpicking those who really understand the community we’re looking to create,” says Adam. “It’s about getting the right mix of events and places for people to hang out, whether that means pop-ups at the Bungalow, or music and art events elsewhere.”

But designing a place that’s all about inclusivity wouldn’t be complete without open spaces, and Kampus offers just that – thanks to the lush, wild garden at its heart. “We almost wanted to create something post-apocalyptic, with an overgrown garden and towering trees,” says another Adam (Higgins, from Capital&Centric). “We loved the idea of bringing greenery back into the city, and were inspired by places like the High Line in New York. The garden is hidden away in the centre of Kampus – you almost stumble across it. Quite often public space is an afterthought: you’ll see cold, hard materials like granite which, while it might be low maintenance, doesn’t create spaces that people actually want to use. We wanted something much softer and greener where people can chill out – an oasis in the heart of the city.”

Capital&Centric and HBD: On the Dutch influence behind Kampus

Posted on: March 30th, 2020 by kampusAdmin

Co-creators Adam Higgins at Capital&Centric and Adam Brady at HBD tell us about why they chose Dutch architects Mecanoo to design Kampus.

“There are some great architects in Manchester, but we felt that everything that was going up in the city looked the same” says Higgins. “Kampus is so central, so high profile, so unique that we were determined to do something different that would stand out. We’re right on the canal, which got us thinking about other places that have nailed canal-side living, so we started googling Dutch architects. That’s how we ended up with Mecanoo.”

He continues: “We wanted to emulate the quirkiness of the buildings on Canal Street next door, which have a really Dutch vibe, and we took inspiration from places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen. We wanted to create a more intimate environment, like European cities where you can be walking down a tiny street and discover a beautiful, hidden square.

Brady adds: “We also went out to the States but for totally different reasons. At the time no one in the UK was really doing purpose-built, single ownership rental schemes so we went to Chicago to see how they do it. The Americans might not be known for their design and architecture, but they do get the nuts and bolts of the service right.”

He continues: “Mecanoo created something unlike anything else Manchester has to offer. It’ll be a proper community full of character and diversity and with five beautiful, individual buildings there’s something to suit everyone’s taste. Whether you want modern, minimal new build; exposed concrete and waffle ceilings in the 1960s tower; a restored Victorian warehouse with big beautiful windows or a Dutch House in our rooftop village – it’s up to you!”.

HBD and Capital&Centric: A journey into Kampus

Posted on: March 30th, 2020 by kampusAdmin

In a series of stories, co-creators Adam Brady at HBD and Adam Higgins at Capital&Centric give us the low down on how they came up with the vision for Kampus.

“When we set out with Kampus we knew it had to be awesome and much more than just another residential development,” says Brady. “This was never going to be a bunch of bland, high-rise white boxes. It’s going to be a homegrown neighbourhood which, whether you live there or not, you can come and explore.”

Higgins adds: “We wanted something very different that didn’t look like it’d been dropped from space. The area is packed with history and character and we wanted that, and the people who will call it home, to define what Kampus ultimately is. We were lucky that we had a lot to work with. There are some great buildings on site that other developers might have bulldozed, but we were determined to keep them.”

Once the home of Manchester Metropolitan University, Kampus is a smorgasbord of history and architecture with two Victorian warehouses, a brutalist 1960s tower and the Bungalow – a disused security cabin on stilts.

“Everyone was telling us to get rid of the 1960s tower, but we were adamant that we should keep that, and the Bungalow,” Higgins says. “Why? Well, you knock those buildings down and what have you got left? Just some more dull, soulless identikit apartments that could be anywhere. Don’t get me wrong, it would have been cheaper to knock down the tower and start again but it gives the place character and I actually really love the brutalist architecture.”

Brady adds: “People thought we were mad to keep the Bungalow but this little gem on stilts is now one of Manchester’s most unique venues. A flexible and creative space in the heart of the city, it’s our version of the village hall. A place for independents and new ideas to find their feet, it will see a series of pop-up residencies and community uses as the site comes to life.”

Exterior Architecture: Designing a garden for the city

Posted on: March 3rd, 2020 by kampusAdmin

The planting design lay at the heart of the concept for Kampus. The desire to create a secret garden, a hidden oasis within Manchester, hinged on the success of the soft landscape – and we hear more about the garden’s design from creators, Exterior Architecture.

When designing Kampus, we took a holistic approach to the planting, looking at how certain plants could be used to create drama and aid legibility. The creation of portals at key thresholds was central, and we were keen to explore how planting could be used to draw people through the spaces, provide glimpses of what lay beyond and set up key views.

The eccentricity of the existing and proposed buildings set a platform for the planting design and we workshopped hard to understand the relationship between space, built form and programming. Kampus is blessed with an interconnected network of courtyards and linear spaces, each with its own microclimate and ambience. From the canal-side secret garden to sun-kissed Chorlton Square, we saw the opportunity to announce the scheme at the four entry points around Kampus.

Chorlton Square we saw as bright and vibrant. We wanted to create a feeling of wandering through historic Manchester and getting washed up on a tropical beach. Manchester City Council have a programme of testing supposedly tender palms in city centre locations and have achieved great success, so we drew on their work by adding Phoenix canariensis (Canary Island Date Palm) to set the scene for this space. Beneath these, Arbutus unedo (strawberry tree), a native of southern Europe and the tip of Ireland, bring a fresh and breezy appearance.

Across the development we saw climbing plants as a way to marry the built form with the landscape, and in Chorlton Square, climbers adorn the facades of the listed buildings and the statement columns of the new builds.

Along Little David Street climbers also play an important role in forming the connection between building and landscape. Little David Street presents itself as a typical industrial Manchester backstreet, so we wanted to honour its history by adding a further layer – the urban future of nature reclaiming the city. The setts laid along Little David Street are pulled back along the building edges, giving a frayed appearance and allowing space for planting to be introduced. A palette rich in ferns is reminiscent of those plants which first colonise built up areas.

Ferns can be found in abundance along the steps running along the canal between Aytoun Street and the secret garden. Here the feathered fronds of Dryopteris and Matteucia rub against low-growing shrubs whilst majestic tree ferns stand above – flamboyant totems set between the concrete architectural columns. We wanted to capture the rhythm of walking down the steps and echo it in the form and structure of the planting.

The stand of three existing beech trees on the corner of Minshull Street and Aytoun Street were for us the most exciting part Kampus when we first saw it. Due to the tendency for shallow rooting, beech trees are not commonly found in urban environments, but these specimens were thriving, their elephantine forms and dense canopy creating an otherworldly space beneath. It was paramount that we showed these beautiful trees the respect they deserved, and care was taken throughout the build, particularly when laying paving around them. To complement the beeches we added a mix of shade tolerant ferns and evergreen perennials and supplemented this with a mix of colonisers scrambling across the stone gabion walls.

All four of the spaces lead into the central courtyard, a new public space for Manchester and a new kind of public space within Manchester. The central space is conceived as a garden within the city that captures the imagination, with interest and intrigue wherever you look. The space meanders through the planting, the eye is drawn to the layers of vegetation, creating magic and mystique.

The trees that fill the garden act as anchors, the ephemeral bark of the birches are guides, whilst the spreading canopies of the magnolias define the space beneath. The evergreen foliage of Ligustrum lucidum (Chinese tree privet) retains a tropical feel within the central garden throughout the year. A sub layer of tree ferns and tropical evergreen shrubs further enhance the atmosphere, whilst a richly scented ground layer creates a fully immersive sensory experience.

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