Premier House resides at the north end of Deansgate in central Manchester. Built in the 1960s as offices and retail units, it was also briefly a hotel. Previously there was a walkway bridge connecting to shops on the other side of this busy commercial street. Ear-marked for demolition and redevelopment since the late 1990s there have been many competing plans for the site. The building has been gradually demolished over the last few weeks which has given the opportunity to watch as layers of history are uncovered. The skin of the building has been gradually erased revealing the skeleton beneath, rebar steel sinew piercing corporeal concrete flesh. The removal of each layer of the building revealing ageing decoration, secret recesses and hiding places. Intimate secrets laid bare. The carcass of the building gradually decomposing.
In broad terms the 20th century’s modernism and utopian dreams have been supplanted by brutal late stage capitalism. Utilitarianism replaced by vanity projects of expelled oligarchs and detached venture capitalists; prevailing trends promptly obsolete and disregarded. Carrion for the Cetus metropolis. But involuntary remnants of the past remain; the agency of the city in the furrows and creases. Cobbled streets through blistered asphalt, iron kerb sides framing mottled pavement, junction boxes for retired utilities; ghost signs for archaic fashions on red brick are our commercial frescoes. All providing vivid source material and opportunities for unique interpretation.
Cities become frayed and worn by dint of their utility and we cloth ourselves in them like a comfortable coat. The white heat of the latest architectural development gives way to mundanity without pausing for sentimentalism. Urban sprawl engulfs civic spaces unchecked, a constant drive for reinvention through reinterpretation, reaching the same decaying conclusion. Like muffled music on crumbling audiotape or phantom films on scorched nitrate.