As Dean, Allan has led the School of Arts and Media since its establishment in 2012, enhancing its reputation as a centre of excellence for creative education, with strong links to the creative industries.
Allan, how are you finding the building?
I would say there are very few buildings that first open up and immediately get the thumbs up from the users; from students, to staff, to security, to cleaning ladies and gents. Everybody who comes in is knocked out by it.
Why is that?
The atrium is really well designed and floods light into the whole building. Then visually, that ability to look up and across and watch people working, that’s made a community out of the school. And then all the additional spaces in the corridors — there are lots of nooks and crannies with good seating. If you go around, they’re always full because people love to use them.
As Dean, how is the building facilitating your vision for the school?
There’s so much solid gold in this building in terms of space and kit – it’s enabled us to realise our plans for a cultural campus. I was in the 350 seat theatre on Monday night and it was packed. Mike Leigh the film director was staging Peterloo – that’s the quality we’ve got. And we’re beginning to develop a name for this amazing space.
We have a series of partners with HOME, Manchester International Festival, Manchester Animation Festival and The Chinese Centre for Contemporary Art. We’re so well networked and this building is a focal point of that network and all the activities we do.
If I just go back to our plans for a cultural campus and cultural quarter, this building is at the heart of that. I genuinely think that this building has started that process of regenerating Salford.
Are you seeing a sense of ownership develop within the building?
Every year the students have the potential to redesign the studio areas. And they do, but I don’t think it’s as radical as it might be. We need to be confident about how to use the building. We’ve seen the ways that we can make it our own. And fashion have. The space is totally owned, totally lived in, totally worked out. It’s just a brilliant celebration of fashion design in this university. We’ve also had fashion shows in the atrium area. Our technicians lit it and that transformed the space. The moment we did that we owned the building.