Culture And Society FIRST PRIZE A
Work title: Reciprocus: Make, Move, Manage
RECIPROCUS: MAKE, MOVE, MANAGE relies on an ambitious plan to give new sense to areas that have been typically neglected by recent developments in late capitalist societies. It addresses a system of waste and discarded resources – be it in human skills or material culture –by way of adaptive reuse and forms of planning that welcome bottom-up initiatives. Opposing urban shrinkage, three types of operations revitalize urban areas along the once thriving, and now declining Manchester Ship Canal. Based on local exchanges such as time banks and idealistic community engagement, the three steps of the Reciprocus program are brought to interaction through an engaging architectural fiction focused on “amplifying the inefficiency of contemporary society.” Refusing architecture as a mere service provider in an established economic cycle, the proposal presents architects taking the role of mediators in new creative ways.
RECIPROCUS: MAKE, MOVE, MANAGE
Reciprocus (latin for rec·i·proc·i·ty n) A reciprocal relationship of mutual cooperative interchange between two or more agencies.
The institutionalisation of greed, a belief that stems from a capitalist society, has produced a scenario where growth continues astronomically as our systems and networks have multiplied. A competitive society and mass production has lead to excess growth, where waste is not only in the form of tangible artefacts such as infrastructure and derelict buildings; but also skills, knowledge, services and others. The proliferation of this has promoted a disposable culture of people that view their environment as a disposable commodity. Similar to
the system of capitalism, innovation is inherently destructive with new innovations always replacing existing technologies and processes, causing an influx of new markets to emerge at ever increasing rates. This forms the basis of creative destruction, a theory popularised by the economist Joseph Schumpeter, as an adaption of Karl Marx’s economic theories concerned with the creation and annihilation of wealth under capitalism.
Within this context, how do we re-appropriate the value of waste in a community?
Based along the Manchester Ship Canal, Reciprocus challenges the notion of waste, envisioning dynamic interventions that operate parallel to existing market typologies by re-evaluating our position within a capitalist society. Operations are processed through the divisions ‘make’, ‘move’ and ‘manage’.
In order to act and intervene in a territory, it is essential to first understand and investigate the current and past conditions as a locus of possibilities.
The Manchester Ship Canal in 1894 marked a period of economic industrial development between Liverpool and Manchester. Despite the city being over 60km inland, the canal brought opportunities for trade to Manchester, which also filtered through to its neighbouring boroughs along the route. However, distribution halted on the canal in the 1960’s as roads and trains became cheaper and more efficient, resulting in the stagnation of the canal as a major trade route. Freight traffic decreased from its peak in 1958 of 18 million tons annually to 7 million tons today. This decline led to a process of urban shrinkage, where locks and docks were abandoned and ports reduced significantly. The canal that was meant to strengthen the communities became the rupture that tore through their fabric, isolating boroughs either side. It became the industrial revolutions’ most heroic infrastructure, and also its greatest failure.
With the understanding of material flows and procedures of identifying waste, Reciprocus works on a virtual territory that is accessed by borough councils with the possibility of having it accessible to the wider public in the future. It allows for greater connectivity between the associated boroughs along the route of the Manchester ship canal, hence becoming a promoter of cultural exchange, physically manifested in structures that the borough councils will essentially fund.
Central to the concept is exchange, utilising the notion of Make (creation), Move (location) and Manage (facilitation), each becoming an individual intervention, working collectively as the Reciprocus system. The interventions will be manifested at three sample towns that have been chosen as an example to illustrate how the program can be realised in this context. The scheme also responds to government aims of re-branding the UK as the home of sustainability- by creating an innovative, synchronized, layer of exchange that promotes the development of culture in the boroughs between Manchester and Liverpool.
After analysis of alternative exchange models, such as time banking and bitcoin, this proposal imagines an idyllic scenario where communities engage with the Reciprocus system for their betterment. By amplifying the inefficiency of contemporary society, we are able to observe flows and suggest alternative networks for the reutilising of waste resources.
We are not suggesting alternative strategies of moneyless exchange or a new form of currency, neither is it a closed loop resolution for society’s waste. This proposal acknowledges the role of the Architect as an innovative stimulus who considers an alternative reality that works simultaneously with established norms. We regard the practice of architecture as a form of mediation: the notion of intervening as an emancipating act, which generates a response to social, political and economic tensions. This proposal shall understand and re-think the way we consider waste, in order to unveil its intrinsic value that is often dismissed simply because of its neglected perception. For this purpose, our context is the Manchester Ship Canal, whose decline forms the premise of this proposal: an invitation to reassess its function in a contemporary dialogue.