Tuesday, 15 September 2009


The image above, referred to as a 'masterplan' by Rochdale council, is the city fathers' compelling vision of how they will turn the space around Rochdale town hall into one of Europe's biggest public spaces. I tell you this in case you were labouring under the impression that said image was created by a child in a remedial class with only three felt tips to choose from: puce, flesh and powder blue.
If you will permit me to take a quote completely out of context, council leader Alan Taylor knows it shit but added: "We make no apologies for this." Well, thanks Alan.
You might think that this schematic is a little light on use and programme (beyond the visionary 'water features' that multiply offensively across the Stalin-style steppe that constitutes the new public space), but you'd be wrong. Look at the visualisation below:
They've thought hard about an innovative mix of 'cafe' on the ground floor with outdoor seating next to a dual carriageway, with 'mixed-use' space above it. Helpfully, they have placed two people in the 'mixed-use' space, presumably doing a mix of things. So you can really feel that mix happening.
Finally a key plank of revitalising the city centre will be to plant some trees, and then spray paint them purple:

Can anyone from Rochdale shed any light on this amateurish nonsense?

With many thanks to a contributor for this one...


  1. "Bold and challenging" ? At least they're not over-promising with the idea of a "learning and cultural quarter". Why's it always a 'quarter' ? Why can't anyone build a whole. Or at least a half ?

  2. I misread "Rush water feature jets with lighting" as "Rush water torture jets with rioting;" the latter might be more appropriate for Brown's Britain.

    The plan seems to have been influenced by the paintings of Howard Hodgkin.

  3. it really does make my day reading your blog, laughed outloud at the pink box render. I think i did one of those in first year.

  4. The work of 1000 council jobsworths, under budget deadlines. I feel sorry for the person who was forced to draw this and every other council masterplan. Their original colours were probably too political... and I can feel their pain in having to type 'visitor hub'.

  5. Honestly, more like 3 council jobsworths who wrote it all in a darkened room without reference to anyone or anything and expected to produce a masterpiece...

    Chimpanzee's on typewriters anyone?

  6. Again, I am laughing, when I should weeping. This is actually brilliant, and wilful and devious in its awfulness. It's worng ons o many levels. It's actually a whole new concept in wrong. In time, people will pay to visit this shrine of wrong.

  7. Fear not. Living in Rochdale i can safely assure you that no trees will be painted purple in this town. This is yet more hot air from a council who has slowly let the place slip into the seventh level of hell and has decided to fix the problems by spending 500m pounds on some wallpaper and a big bucket of paste to paper over the cracks with.. I'm afraid it couldn't have been done by Chimpanzee's as they all knew the town had slid down the pan and evacuated years ago leaving only a lower form of life known as council leaders to try and run the place.

  8. this is fucking awful...

    "A learning and cultural quarter"
    - maybe a cinema if you're lucky...

    "a new retail heart"
    - a bad pedestrianisation scheme in Marshalls paving with some fountains and LEDs

    "A circular boulevard"
    - a ring road with stunted saplings blasted with salt in winter and planted into a mix of rubble and dogshit

    "Green Valley"
    -dead space with paths designed for muggings

    "Pioneer’s route"
    -boring wee inscriptions in the paving that nobody will notice

    "Place for People"
    -a pointlessly bland and meaningless statement like putting a plaster on a chainsaw wound

  9. When I see a council town plan drawn by hand and finished in watercolour and ink, then I'll be mildly impressed. This stuff is about as crap as it gets when it comes to computer visualisations.

  10. wow.

    when can i get this kind of hot shit in the South?

  11. Looks like the school placement student had some fun in his two weeks at work

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  13. Can such projects really be a surprise after the twenty years of wallowing in dystopia which has constituted much architectural and urban education? Ruskin (considerably earlier than the lamentably imitative W.Alsop) thought that Rochdale could aspire to the aesthetic standards of Siena.

  14. The 'mixed use' semi-opaque box is utterly amazing. In North Shields there's a terrace of little old shops that the council attempted to spruce up by giving them a new paint scheme and consistent signboards (read shop name in uppercase slab serif). Problem was, a few of them didn't have tenants at the time, so the council put signs on them that just say 'Retail Store'.

    I'd love for that fucking purple box to not find a tenant, and some graphic design firm (Cartlidge Levene spring to mind) write 'Mixed Use' in Helvetica bold in massive letters on the wall.

  15. Rochdale's got some beautiful if not unique building's and whenever I see it I feel sorry for them.

    One look at this and i'm on the hunt for Bono's e-mail address to try and get him to get some sort of appeal going... mainly an appeal for sanity.

  16. What are these two guys doing on the 2nd floor of that random pinnk box while everybody else is compacted in a crowd at ground level? Are they paying like 50 pounds per hour to be up there? When I saw the picture I just started laughing, it was wonderful :) I love such nonsense and that's why I'm enjoying the crap out of your blog.