anthony hollaway's 1968 sculptural wall is practically invisible and entirely neglected. chances are you've passed it on the way from piccadilly station to the umist campus or to stockport road and barely noticed this overlooked treasure. or perhaps you have noticed it subliminally and dismissed it as merely a graffitied eyesore.
but this is no ordinary wall, as anyone who looks at it more closely and gives it a second chance will discover. even moss covered, lichen ridden, strewn with discarded takeaways, assorted rubbish and bird droppings, the hollaway wall is a delight, its sturdy exuberance a testimony to the hardy optimism of a small band of utopian modernists of post-war britain, a lovely and elegant length of concrete sculpture. it is as architecturally significant as the piccadilly pavilion, centrepiece to the renovated piccadilly gardens by signatect tadao ando, commissioned at enormous expense for the 2002 commonwealth games, the obligatory 'iconic gateway to the city'.
a deceptively simple curved concrete wall with a covered space on its concave side providing yet more coffee chains and a modicum of shelter, the pavilion has hardly faired much better than the hollaway and is already looking a little shabby, sandwiched inelegantly between rows of plastic urinals and tram machinery. nonetheless this concrete structure, part buffer, part artwork, is a significant coup for the city - ando's first ever british project. to fully appreciate just why this self taught superstar is regarded as one of the world's greatest architects, read benjamin secher in the telegraph. in truth, though ando's reputation is well deserved, the piccadilly pavilion, commissioned as a prestigious kick start to the regeneration of a shabby section of central manchester, now seems hardly the serene japanese garden he aspired to and it has as many detractors as admirers.
in sharp contrast to this and other contemporary iconotastic commissions, the hollaway wall which made no such bold claims and sits unobtrusively in a quiet corner of the city, finds itself in suddenly in the limelight, its future uncertain. in short, it seems that not satisfied with wreaking havoc on the owens campus the powers that be have turned their pitiless gaze towards the splendid umist, with plans apparently afoot to sell off much of the site which includes some of the city's finest and sadly increasingly rare 1960s buildings and structures.
the 20th century society is currently featuring the wall in its building of the month section and is supporting a well deserved submission for listing status. richard brook, senior lecturer at manchester school of architecture, waxes lyrical about the wall, its significance and context within umist as part of a broader 60's utopian vision -