This £250 million large housing project transformed a former university site in the heart of Manchester into a verdant housing scheme, thus regenerating a famous area by the city’s famous Canal Street. The impressive development comprises 533 build-to-rent apartments plus a mix of flexible, commercial spaces across a range of new and refurbished buildings.
The 44,000 m2 site now consists of five buildings set around a lush secret garden: two grade II listed shipping warehouses were extensively refurbished, an 11-storey 1960s concrete tower was transformed and extended, whilst two new buildings tied to the tower were erected in place of demolished academic buildings.
Initially designed by Dutch architects Mecanoo before Chapman Taylor took the reins, the scheme utilises the qualities of the existing built structures and takes cues from surrounding Victorian buildings but creates new connections.The buildings are horizontally divided into three distinct elements: the podium with dark profiled metal cladding, a mid-section with rough-textured red brickwork, and a roofscape characterised by Dutch houses also clad in profiled metal.
At the base, the podium has ins and outs, a colonnade and raking columns. The podium anchors the new build and tower elements in a consistent base while creating a defined edge to the street. The mid-section boast handsome red bricks with horizontal banding, windows staggered floor on floor, splayed reveals in white, and a spattering of balconies. Meanwhile, the quirky Amsterdam-inspired Dutch penthouses at the top reduce the sense of bulk and give the development an airier quality.
Ibstock’s attractive Northern Buff bricks, which provide a light textured façade, feature prominently in the design. The height variations of the elevations make each facade legible. Meanwhile, the alternating positions of accentuated apertures in the facade work also reduce the scale of the brick mass while the light pixel elements add relief and balance to the facades. These simple design devices break down the elevations, subtly animate the buildings, and create a friendly and relatable addition to the Manchester skyline.
The result is a melting pot of buildings and spaces that celebrates the vibrancy and diversity of the locality. Each building has its own distinct architectural character, meaning that the scheme caters for a wide range of tastes. Indeed, with first-class facilities including secure parking, cycle spaces, a rooftop residents’ gym, and a lounge with unparalleled views, the accommodation has become extremely popular and provides much-needed rented housing for the city centre.
A sense of wellbeing also pervades. The newly landscaped entrances provide access to KAMPUS and the interesting spaces between the buildings draw people into the heart of the scheme. These much-needed green spaces create a relaxing environment for both residents and visitors.