The practice was commissioned by the National Trust earlier this year to turn the iconic disused railway viaduct into a permanent feature in the city, inspired by New York’s High Line.
BDP has now released images of its vision for the Mancunian ‘sky park’ scheme for a National Trust consultation.
Under the proposals, the 330m bridge would be extended to connect it to Pomona Island in Trafford, creating a 1km-long active ‘high line’ through the city.
The National Trust has said the broad concept is to create a ‘green corridor, active travel route and destination’, providing a new elevated link between Manchester, Trafford and Salford.
According to consultation documents, the scheme’s ‘immersive landscape’ will connect people to each other and to nature, provide ‘relief from the urban bustle’, and ‘breathe life into a historic piece of Manchester’s hidden heritage’.
Last summer the trust opened a year-long pilot version of the project, which proved so popular it has been extended to 2024.
Designed by Twelve Architects, it runs along a section of the 130-year-old structure in Castlefield, and has been visited by around 50,000 people since opening in July 2022.
BDP’s permanent proposal still requires an estimated £25 million of funding, and it is hoped the designs will help attract investors.
The viaduct sits in one of the oldest parts of Manchester and was constructed in 1892 by Heenan & Froude, the engineer that worked on Blackpool Tower.
It was used to carry heavy rail traffic in and out of Manchester Central railway station until it closed in 1969, later being converted into the Manchester Central Convention Complex.
BDP landscape architect director James Millington said: ‘The project at Castlefield viaduct is proof that the urban landscape in Manchester is ready for change.
‘We have spent the last three months researching this historic, iconic structure and have taken the time to understand the art of the possible.’
Millington said that to ensure the continued success of the project, the landscape architecture would have to ‘create something inclusive, where access to nature brings life, health and energy to the city’.
He said BDP was ‘excited’ to bring its plans to the local community and ‘with their help, [make] them a reality’.
He added: ‘The potential of this project is unbound, and we will work with the National Trust to ensure it is reflective of the people and communities of Manchester and the whole of the North West region.’