The Manchester Chips building by Will Alsop served as the cover of BluPrint's Vol 2 issue back in 2013


Will Alsop’s Chips housing project is fun without being capricious

Will Alsop's eye-catching housing building, Chips, in Manchester satisfies cravings for contemporary architecture fare

  • May 15, 2018

  • Images from Wikimedia Commons

Here’s one housing project with individuality, but without pretensions. It’s still your basic, multi-storey box, which London-based architect Will Alsop saved from being boring by lopping off part of the ground floor, creating a cantilever made exciting and youthful by its bold red underside. Alsop calls the 100-meter long residential building in New Islington, Manchester, “Chips,” because he says the design was inspired by the vision of three chips (French fries to us non-Brits) stacked atop another.

Like the big, fat, deep-fried slices of potato that go into fish and chips, the Manchester Chips are not perfectly straight, but have slight curves and angles. The irregularities, however, are not so severe as to make construction expensive or maintenance complicated, unlike many contemporary and structures that aspire to look like abstract art, and try too hard to be “modern.”

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Like its designer, Manchester Chips does not take itself seriously. It is fun and energetic without being bizarre, capricious or difficult. The eye-catching residential building houses 142 one, two, and three-bedroom apartments, with the ground floor used as commercial space.

Will Alsop, known for his avant-garde Modernist designs, also designed the Peckham Library in London that won him a Stirling Prize and a Civic Trust Award, the Sharp Center for Design in Ontario that garnered a RIBA Worldwide Award, and The Public in West Bromwich that bagged a Sir Hugh Casson Award for the Worst New Building in 2008.

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Original article first appeared in BluPrint Volume 2 2013. Edits were made for Bluprint online.

In 12 May 2018, the award-winning architect and architecture professor Will Allen Alsop, OBE passed away at the age of 70, following a short illness, according to a statement from his firm, aLL Design, released on the 13th, Sunday.

“Will has inspired generations and impacted many lives through his work. It is a comfort to know that due to the nature of Will’s work and character, he will continue to inspire and bring great joy. He had an exceptional ability to recognise particular strengths in individuals which he would draw out and nurture. His design ethos, essentially to ‘make life better’, is evident in the architecture of his buildings and their surrounding communities,” Marcos Rosello, co-founder of aLL Design, writes in the firm’s official statement.

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