The site of Pomona is located in the southwest of Manchester, UK. It is an island shaped by River Irwell and Bridgewater Cannel. The land of Pomona also straddles Salford, Trafford and Manchester. Transportation system such as motor way, train and tram are going along the East edge of the site. Through walkway system, 20 minutes is required from city centre to the site. At the west of the site, it is an area with a mixture of industry and residential. Moreover, Pomona is a connection point between the city centre and the Quays.
The identity of the site is decided by the bigger scale context. Manchester, a city with glory history of industrial revolution, warehouses, old buildings and industrial related attraction points are everywhere to see. No doubt, this is a great city with strong development history. But that is not enough for a place where people are fulfilled with. Lack of green public space in the urban area is my first impression about Manchester. Industrial atmosphere is too heavy to relax and enjoy for daily life. Looking at the big Manchester map, green space in suburb is fading away when it comes to the city centre. Concrete jungles in the city centre are spareding in an opposite way. If the site can be developed as a public green space, the green transition can be enhanced. Apart from that, the location of Pomona Island is just on the edge of city centre, it could be a green lung for the city to reduce the heat island effect. It also can stronger the connection between the city centre and the media city, a green link between the two could encourage more people to walk through and enjoy the natural beauty rather than stay in the tram cabin and fast passing by.
The name ‘Pomona’ is from a Roman goddess of fruitfulness and this name was aim to attract visitors when there were pleasure gardens here. In 1868, The Royal Pomona Palace was built in this place. But in 1887, the Palace was demolished by explosion of a neighbouring chemical factory. After that event, Pomona become Pomona docks and an extension to Manchester Ship Cannel which opened in 1894. From the 1970s onwards the site was cleared and some dock arms filled in.
Pomona island is owned by Peel Land & Property at present, a residential proposal has been published but the building plan was against by citizens who living nearby. At present, Pomona is an abandoned field with wild growing vegetation. Big trees are rare to see, because the owner was cleaning the vegetation to avoid this place to be the ecological protection site. Despite this, the site has been considered to have both heritage and ecological value. Ecologists have recorded 100 bird species and over 150 flora species, within them, there are 33 biologically important species have been identified. There is a walkway and lights along the shore, but it looks like lack of maintenance for a long time. In the bumpy paving, grass is growing between slates.
Apart from that, the site is so isolated because of the surrounding layout, people only can access on foot and there is no obvious entrance for it. As a result, people see this area as a secret garden with wildlife appreciation in an urban context. On the other hand, the isolation also attracted crim, needles were founded in the site and the wasteland atmosphere makes single visitor feel unsecure.
The concept is from the name ‘Pomona’, Pomona is a Roman Goddess who representing fruitful abundance. That reminds me in European Medieval gardens, orchards always symbolize paradise, somewhere people can escape from the reality. I think Pomona has the potential to be a similar place. Somewhere people can forget the heavy industrial flavour and the urban burden to enjoy a natural space and wild life environment.
The relationship between the concept and the strong buffer idea
In order to make spiritual isolation atmosphere, similar with walls in medieval gardens, a strong woodland buffer can separate the urban noise from the railway, tram and busy motor way in the west side of the site. The proposal woodland buffer also can enclose the water front open space, in that way, people in the park can have a sense of being encircled by nature.
Using landscape to educate people of the site history
The dock edge has been filled in since the site has been abandoned, so in order to emphasis the dock and also keep the big open space intact, I was trying to use vegetation and pathway to frame the old edge. When people come to the site, they may think about why vegetation has been planted in specific direction and why pathway appear in the middle of grass meadow. Apart from that, historical sculptures made from existing concrete blocks are placed in the water reaction area, so people can educate themselves by walking around.
Utilizing the existing ecological condition
For the existing vegetation growing in the proposal woodland area, they are all going to be kept and grow with other new planted species as strong buffer. In the central open space, few existing shrubs are kept to rich the space experience and make the boundary between woodland and grassland more organic. In the south side of the site, utilizing the seasonal wetland condition to imitate natural successional landscape thus inviting bird species. For the protected flora species can be found in the site, the idea is replanting them to the intimated space where people will appreciate them in a more delicate way.