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About our Castlefield Forum Viaduct Plot

In 2021 the National Trust asked us to be their lead community partner and host a plot as part of the viaduct pilot. All based on Castlefield’s ‘Spirit of Place’, we have worked with a range of partners to  design, develop and build what you see here today. 


The process began in late 2021, when our project team undertook a series of workshops to define what we were looking to achieve from our plot. Then in early 2022 our proposal was shared with stakeholders at the National Trust, which received approval allowing us to approach professional architecture and design partners BDP, Studio Maurice Shapero, Lazerian and Daren Newman .


Working together with both BDP and Maurice Shapero helped us ideate potential designs and explore the feasibility of the build for the 22 sqm plot.

Following this process we were able to refine the final design for the plot, developing the planting plan, reflecting the essence of Castlefield: people, barges, trains, trams, canals, warehouses, railways, cobbles and modern apartment blocks.

About our plants

The planting scheme is informal, spread across three raised ‘Corten’ weathering steel beds on either side of the plot. Plants of the same variety are grouped together to produce a naturalistic, layered effect and the selection of plants aims to mirror the distinct features of Castlefield in both colour and scale. 


Blue Sages, Verbenas and purple Alliums reflect the steel-grey tones of the viaduct and water beneath, whilst orange Yarrow, bold red Daylilies and Heleniums represent the terracotta brick of the Victorian warehouses and exposed seams of sandstone upon which  the Roman settlers constructed their fort in Castlefield in AD79.


Sedges and Feathergrass sit at the feet of tall Foxtail Lilies, like the older low-rise buildings now staring up at the wave of mirrored-glass residential towers: a recent addition to the Castlefield skyline.


As is the case with the Viaduct project overall, encouraging bird and insect life was in the forefront of the designers’ minds with many of our plants being attractive to bees and other pollinators.

The following is a complete list of the individual plant varieties we have used on our plot: 1) Eremus 'Joanna' (‘Foxtail lily.’) 2) Stipa Tenuissima (‘Mexican Feather Grass.’) 3) Allium Sphaerocephalon (‘Round-headed leek.’) 4) Perovskia 'Blue Spire' (‘Russian Sage.’) 5) Salvia Nemorosa 'Amethyst' (‘Woodland Sage.’) 6) 'Terracotta' (‘Yarrow.’) Hemerocalis 'Pardon Me' (‘Daylily.’) 7) Carex Oshimensis 'Evergold' (‘Japanese Sedge.’) 8) Helenium 'Moerheim Beauty' (‘Sneezeweed.’) 9) Eryngium Planum 'Jade Frost' (‘Sea Holly.’) 10) Verbena Bonariensis (‘Vervain.’)

About the artwork


The stunning central installation was commissioned by our local partners at Saul Hay Gallery, working with Manchester artist Lazerian (Liam Hopkins) and designer Daren Newman


Situated in the heart of Castlefield and established in 2016, Saul Hay is one of the foremost contemporary art galleries in the region. Working with emerging and established artists they present a diverse programme of contemporary and modern painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, and photography.


Working with Saul Hay Gallery we commissioned Liam and Daren to explore how they could interpret our ‘Spirit of Place’ statement. The statement itself is from a previous piece of strategy work we did with the National Trust and sums up the essence of Castlefield in a specially-written piece of prose.


Liam’s multidisciplinary creative studio, Lazerian, are known for creating large scale artworks, public art installations and bespoke sculptural commissions - having previously created work for the Manchester Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Liam combined this with Daren’s experience in producing bespoke typography for a range of clients including Absolut Vodka, New York Times and New Balance.


The result is our ‘Spirit of Place’ statement captured in a unique Castlefield typeface that interprets the shapes of the viaduct’s striking industrial architecture. The strong angular serif letterforms are laser-cut into Corten steel, reflecting the materiality of Castlefield’s industrial heritage.

Understanding The Spirit of Castlefield

From Castefield’s historic Roman and industrial past, through the regeneration of the 1990s and as a place today for living, working and playing this is an area with so many stories to tell. Learn more about 'The Spirit of Castlefield' through the Place, the Plot and the People by listening to our mini podcast series. You can listen to the series via the podcasting platforms Apple Podcasts and Spotify or via the player on this page. We’ll be releasing more episodes during 2022 so remember to follow us across social media to be the first to hear about the latest releases.

How can you get involved?

Being part of Castlefield Forum is a great way to meet others, to have a say in what happens and to give something back to this amazing place. You can help by volunteering, donating or engaging with us on social media or by emailing Find out more about all of our action groups to learn more about our current projects.

You can also get involved this summer by supporting Castefield’s presence on the viaduct. We’re looking for volunteers to support with tending to our plot and hosting our events. Register your interest for volunteering for the viaduct via our online form.


With thanks to


We are very grateful to all the organisations who have supported and funded us in the planning, development and delivery of our community plot.

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