Rochdale Reimagined

Rochdale Reimagined encourages pupils to look at new ways to use historic buildings and spaces in Rochdale. Pupils become “honorary architects” and design something amazing, regenerating spaces to make their town centre a vibrant place for everyone to enjoy.


Teaching idea

How can we find out what our area was like in the past, think about what it’s like now and reimagine it for the future?

In 2018 part of Rochdale Town Centre was designated a Heritage Action Zone by Historic England - a place rich in history, heritage and future promise. As part of this initiative, students from Manchester School of Architecture (MSA) carried out a project called “Rochdale Reimagined” in which they created architectural designs and models reimagining the use of old buildings and unused spaces in the city centre. MSA then worked with Historic England’s Heritage Schools programme to develop a project with children from primary schools in Rochdale.

As part of this project, young people were invited to investigate what the area around these sites was like in the past and to consider what that area is like today. The project culminated in a series of activities in which the young people become “honorary architects”, reimagining and redesigning the same spaces that the MSA students had previously looked at.

These resources have been designed to support Key Stage 2 teachers to replicate the project in their own classrooms. The purpose of the project and the aim of these resources is to encourage young people from the local area to:

  • find out about the importance of Rochdale Town Centre, and why it has been designated a HAZ
  • consider the importance of certain buildings to Rochdale’s past, present and future
  • gain an appreciation for, and pride in, the city in which they live

Learning aims and outcomes

  • To develop our local history and geography skills by using maps, plans and historical evidence to find out about our area in the past
  • To investigate why key historical sites in our local area are important
  • To think about, describe and explain how we can care about historic sites in our local area and can continue to use them in the future

Prior knowledge

  • An understanding that the place they live might be a mixture of older and newer buildings

Extended learning and useful links

  • A “Rochdale Reimagined” book was made to showcase and celebrate the work of the children from Rochdale.
  • Find the sites on a modern map and then on old maps and / or aerial photos – to look at how the buildings / area has changed over time. You can view old maps of your area, side by side with a modern map, for free on the National Library of Scotland website. You can then do a map search on Historic England’s Britain From Above website to find oblique aerial photos to use with the maps.
  • Order a bespoke map pack of your area from the Historic England Archive. Each pack contains maps and air photos of your area dating from the 1850s to the present day. The postcode you choose will be at the centre of each map.
  • The information Workbooks in this pack were created by MSA and are specific to five sites in Rochdale. If you work in a school in another part of the country you may like to create your own, simplified version, of the Workbooks for sites near you. The following tips and website links may help you:
    • You may decide to use listed buildings or sites. These can be found on the National Heritage List for England. You can search the list by area or keyword.
    • If you prefer, you could take a walk around your school area and choose sites of interest, or those that could do with a revamp. Why not involve your students in choosing the sites?
    • Use Google maps and Google satellite to identify the shape of the sites and to create “birds eye view” photos. You can also create 3D style photos using the tilt function.
    • Many areas have local history societies and local history libraries which may have lots of interesting information about your site’s past as well as old photos. The internet is also a great source of information!
    • You might find old photos of your site in Historic England’s educational Image Bank. You can search by key word or area.
    • Sometimes people have added photos and information about listed buildings on the NHLE. Scroll to the bottom of the list entry to find out.
    • To give your students some inspiration, why not include images of what similar types of buildings look like in other areas of the country, or how sites have been revamped. If one of your sites is a station for example, you could use St Pancras Station in London as an example of how stations can be multi-functional and impressive sites!